David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1052-1062 (2003)
Eric Scerri and other authors have acknowledged that the reality of chemical orbitals is not compatible with quantum mechanics. Recently, however, Scerri and Sharon Crasnow have argued that if chemists cannot consider orbitals as real entities, then chemistry is in danger of being reduced to physics. I argue that the question of the existence of orbitals is best viewed as an issue of approximation, not metaphysics: in many chemically important cases orbitals do not make sufficiently accurate predictions, and must be replaced. Chemists and physicists can acknowledge this fact while maintaining the utility of orbitals and the autonomy of chemistry.
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Peter Mulder (2010). On the Alleged Non-Existence of Orbitals. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 41 (2):178-182.
Martha L. Harris (2008). Chemical Reductionism Revisited: Lewis, Pauling and the Physico-Chemical Nature of the Chemical Bond. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (1):78-90.
Peter Mulder (2010). On the Alleged Non-Existence of Orbitals. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 41 (2):178-182.
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