Putting quantum mechanics to work in chemistry: The power of diagrammatic representation

Philosophy of Science 67 (3):627 (2000)
Most contemporary chemists consider quantum mechanics to be the foundational theory of their discipline, although few of the calculations that a strict reduction would seem to require have ever been produced. In this essay I discuss contemporary algebraic and diagrammatic representations of molecular systems derived from quantum mechanical models, specifically configuration interaction wavefunctions for ab initio calculations and molecular orbital energy diagrams. My aim is to suggest that recent dissatisfaction with reductive accounts of chemical theory may stem from both the inability of standard accounts of reduction to incorporate the diverse forms of representation found in chemical practice and our philosophical predilection to analyze all connections between theories in terms of logical reduction
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DOI 10.1086/392850
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Robert C. Bishop (2010). Whence Chemistry? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 41 (2):171-177.
Ari Gross (2012). Pictures and Pedagogy: The Role of Diagrams in Feynman's Early Lectures. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 43 (3):184-194.

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