The notion of nature in chemistry

If nature is by definition the object of the natural sciences, then the dichotomy 'natural' versus 'chemical', held by both chemists and nonchemists, suggests an idiosyncrasy of chemistry. The first part of the paper presents a selective historical analysis of the main notions of nature in chemistry, as developed in early Christian views of chemical crafts, alchemy, iatrochemistry, mechanical philosophy, organic chemistry, and contemporary drug research. I argue that the dichotomy as well as quasi-moral judgments of chemistry have been based on static and teleological notions of nature throughout history and that chemists, unlike physicists, have neglected the dynamic notion of nature. The second part provides a philosophical criticism of the former notions and argues for the latter as well as for an explicit discourse about values in chemistry.
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DOI 10.1016/S0039-3681(03)00050-5
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References found in this work BETA
Francis Bacon & J. R. Milton (1996). Novum Organum. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 47 (1):125-128.

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Georgiana Kirkham (2009). Is Biotechnology the New Alchemy? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 40 (1):70-80.

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