Elements, Compounds, and Other Chemical Kinds

Philosophy of Science 73 (5):864-875 (2006)
Abstract
In this article I assess the problems and prospects of a microstructural approach to chemical substances. Saul Kripke and Hilary Putnam famously claimed that to be gold is to have atomic number 79 and to be water is to be H2O. I relate the first claim to the concept of element in the history of chemistry, arguing that the reference of element names is determined by atomic number. Compounds are more difficult: water is so complex and heterogeneous at the molecular level that `water is H2O' seems false under some interpretations. I sketch a response to this problem.
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    References found in this work BETA
    H. Kragh (2000). Conceptual Changes in Chemistry: The Notion of a Chemical Element, Ca. 1900-1925. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 31 (4):435-450.

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