David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Foundations of Chemistry 7 (1):31-48 (2005)
Lavoisier defined an element as a chemicalsubstance that cannot be decomposed usingcurrent analytical methods. Mendeleev saw anelement as a substance composed of atoms of thesame atomic weight. These `definitions' doquite different things: Lavoisier'sdistinguishes the elements from the compounds,so that the elements may form the basis of acompositional nomenclature; Mendeleev's offersa criterion of sameness and difference forelemental substances, while Lavoisier's doesnot. In this paper I explore the historical andtheoretical background to each proposal.Lavoisier's and Mendeleev's explicitconceptions of elementhood differed from eachother, and from the official IUPAC definitionof `element' of the 1920s. However, Lavoisierand Mendeleev both subscribed to – andemployed – a deeper notion of a chemicalelement as the component of compound substancesthat (i) can survive chemical change, and (ii)explains the chemical behaviour of itscompounds.
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Citations of this work BETA
Robin Findlay Hendry (2006). Elements, Compounds, and Other Chemical Kinds. Philosophy of Science 73 (5):864-875.
Michael Weisberg & Paul Needham (2010). Matter, Structure, and Change: Aspects of the Philosophy of Chemistry. Philosophy Compass 5 (10):927-937.
Robin Findlay Hendry (2006). Elements, Compounds and Other Chemical Kinds. Philosophy of Science 73 (5):864--875.
Paul Needham (2008). Is Water a Mixure Bridging the Distinction Between Physical and Chemical Properties. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (1):66-77.
Eric Scerri (2006). On the Continuity of Reference of the Elements: A Response to Hendry. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (2):308-321.
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