Fundamental theories and their empirical patches

Foundations of Chemistry 10 (3):147-156 (2008)
Many theories require empirical patches or ad hoc assumptions to work properly in application to chemistry. Some examples include the Bohr quantum theory of atomic spectra, the Pauli exclusion principle, the Marcus theory of the rate-equilibrium correlation, Kekule’s hypothesis of bond oscillation in benzene, and the quantum calculation of reaction pathways. Often the proposed refinements do not grow out of the original theory but are devised and added ad hoc. This brings into question the goal of constructing theories derived from first principles and the concept of ranking the merit of theories according to their freedom from empirical contamination.
Keywords Merit of theories  Empirical content  Pragmatic imperatives
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DOI 10.1007/s10698-008-9046-5
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