David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Foundations of Chemistry 10 (2):117-127 (2008)
Organic chemists have been able to develop a robust, theoretical understanding of the phenomena they study; however, the primary theoretical devices employed in this field are not mathematical equations or laws, as is the case in most other physical sciences. Instead it is diagrams, and in particular structural formulas and potential energy diagrams, that carry the explanatory weight in the discipline. To understand how this is so, it is necessary to investigate both the nature of the diagrams employed in organic chemistry and how these diagrams are used in the explanations of the discipline. I will begin this paper by characterizing some of the major ways that structural formulas used in organic chemistry. Next I will present a model of the explanations in organic chemistry and describe how both structural formulas and potential energy diagrams contribute to these explanations. This will be followed by several examples that support my abstract account of the role of diagrams in the explanations of organic chemistry. In particular, I will consider both the appeal to ‘hyperconjugation’ in the explanation of alkene stability and how the idea of ‘ring strain’ was developed to explain the relative stability of cyclic compounds.
|Keywords||Organic chemistry Explanation Structural formulas Ring strain Potential energy diagrams|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Gareth Evans (1982). Varieties of Reference. Oxford University Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Jonathan Schaffer (2010). Contrastive Causation in the Law. Legal Theory 16 (4):259-297.
Similar books and articles
Eric Hammer & Norman Danner (1996). Towards a Model Theory of Diagrams. Journal of Philosophical Logic 25 (5):463 - 482.
William Goodwin (2012). Sustaining a Controversy: The Non-Classical Ion Debate. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (4):axs025.
William Mark Goodwin (2009). Scientific Understanding and Synthetic Design. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (2):271-301.
William Goodwin (2009). Scientific Understanding and Synthetic Design. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (2):271-301.
U. Klein (2001). Paper Tools in Experimental Cultures. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 32 (2):265-302.
William Goodwin (2008). Implementation and Innovation in Total Synthesis. Foundations of Chemistry 10 (3):177-186.
William Goodwin (2007). Scientific Understanding After the Ingold Revolution in Organic Chemistry. Philosophy of Science 74 (3):386-408.
William Mark Goodwin (2009). Visual Representations in Science. Philosophy of Science 76 (3):372-390.
William Goodwin (2010). How Do Structural Formulas Embody the Theory of Organic Chemistry? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (3):621-633.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads53 ( #33,000 of 1,101,902 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #306,556 of 1,101,902 )
How can I increase my downloads?