Graduate studies at Western
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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