Chemical kinds and essences revisited

Foundations of Chemistry 7 (1):7-30 (2005)
The philosophical problem of the utility andmeaning of essences for chemistry cannot beresolved by Wittgenstein's principle thatessence cannot explain use, because use isdisplayed in a field of family resemblances.The transition of chemical taxonomy fromvernacular and mystical based terms to theorybased terms stabilized as a unified descriptivetaxonomy, removes chemical discourse from itsconnection with the vernacular. The transitioncan be tracked using the Lockean concepts ofreal and nominal essences, and the changingpriorities between them. Analyzing propertiesdispositionally, initiating a search forgroundings strengthens the case for a logicalasymmetry between descriptive and explanatorydiscourses. Taxonomy is now driven byexplanatory concepts, but not including thosefrom quantum chemistry.
Keywords Philosophy   Chemistry/Food Science, general   Physical Chemistry   Philosophy of Science   History
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DOI 10.1023/B:FOCH.0000042885.93975.69
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Stefan Dragulinescu (2010). Diseases as Natural Kinds. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 31 (5):347-369.
Travis Dumsday (2010). Natural Kinds and the Problem of Complex Essences. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (4):619-634.

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