Guest editorial Content Type Journal Article Category Editorial Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s10698-012-9147-z Authors Alan Chalmers, Unit for History and Philosophy of Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia Journal Foundations of Chemistry Online ISSN 1572-8463 Print ISSN 1386-4238.
Ursula Klein has argued that Geoffroy’s table of chemical affinities, published in 1718, marked the emergence of the concepts of chemical compound and chemical combination central to chemistry. In this paper her position is summarised and then modified to render it immune to criticism that has been levelled against it. The essentials of Geoffroy’s chemistry are clarified and adapted to Klein’s picture by way of a detailed comparison of it with Boyle’s corpuscular chemistry that proceeded Geoffroy’s by over half a (...) century. The idea that Geoffroy’s notion of chemical combination marked a significant turning point in the emergence of modern chemistry is defended against the charge that it is Whiggish. (shrink)
In a recent article, van Fraassen has taken issue with the use to which Perrin’s experiments on Brownian motion have been put by philosophers, especially those defending scientific realism. He defends an alternative position by analysing the details of Perrin’s case in its historical context. In this reply, I argue that van Fraassen has not done the job well enough and I extend and in some respects attempt to correct his claims by close attention to the historical details.
This paper suggests that the cases made for atoms and the aether in nineteenth-century physical science were analogous, with the implication that the case for the atom was less than compelling, since there is no aether. It is argued that atoms did not play a productive role in nineteenth-century chemistry any more than the aether did in physics. Atoms and molecules did eventually find an indispensable home in chemistry but by the time that they did so they were different kinds (...) of entities to those figuring in the speculations of those natural philosophers who were atomists. Advances in nineteenth-century chemistry were a precondition for rather than the result of the productive introduction of atoms into chemistry. (shrink)
The idea that the use of instruments in science is theory‐dependent seems to threaten the extent to which the output of those instruments can act as an independent arbiter of theory. This issue is explored by studying an early use of the electron microscope to observe dislocations in crystals. It is shown that this usage did indeed involve the theory of the electron microscope but that, nevertheless, it was possible to argue strongly for the experimental results, the theory of dislocations (...) being tested, and the theory of the instrument, all at the same time. (shrink)
We can distinguish 'mechanical' in the strict sense of the mechanical philosophers from 'mechanical' in the common sense. My claim is that Boyle's experimental science owed nothing to, and offered no support for, the mechanical philosophy in the strict sense. The attempts by my critics to undermine my case involve their interpreting 'mechanical' in something like the common sense. I certainly accept that Boyle's experimental science was productively informed by mechanical analogies, where 'mechanical' is interpreted in a common sense. But (...) this leaves my original claim untouched and, in the main, unchallenged. (shrink)