By analysing a contemporary criticism to the so called “mathematical chemistry”, we discuss what we understand by mathematizing chemistry and its implications. We then pass to ponder on some positions on the subject by considering the cases of Laszlo, Venel and Diderot, opponents to the idea of mathematization of chemistry. In contrast, we analyse some scholars’ ideas on the fruitful relationship between mathematics and chemistry; here Dirac and Brown are considered. Finally, we mention that the mathematical– (...) class='Hi'>chemistry relationship should be considered beyond the mere aspect of whether chemistry is or not able to be mathematized. This discussion is based upon opinions by Kant and Comte, the first one having two positions on chemistry based upon mathematics and the latter mooting the idea of doing chemistry with mathematical spirit. (shrink)
This study discusses the relationship between Green Chemistry and Environmental Sustainability as expressed in textbooks and articles on Green Chemistry authored by their promoters. It was found that although the Brundtland concept of Sustainable Development/Sustainability has been mentioned often by green chemists, a full analysis of that relationship was almost never attempted. In particular, green chemists have paid scarce attention to the importance of The Second Law of thermodynamics on Environmental Sustainability and the consequences of the limitations it (...) imposes on Green Chemistry, which are discussed in this paper. (shrink)
The fundamental concept of structured chemical system has been introduced and analysed in this paper. This concept, as in biology but not in physics, is very important in chemistry. In fact, the main chemical concepts (molecule and compound) have been identified as systemic concepts and their use in chemical explanation can only be justified in this approach. The fundamental concept of “environment” has been considered and then the system concept in mechanics, chemistry and biology. The differences and the (...) analogies between the use of the systemic approach in these disciplines have been analyzed and correlated to the general problem of reductionism and complexity perspectives. The inanimate–animate dichotomy can be reconsidered in this new approach. Since the chemical systemic concepts of molecule and compound can be dated to the nineteenth century, chemistry can be considered the first true systemic science and its historical evolution can be a model for other sciences (such as the humanities) where the systemic concepts are important. (shrink)
Chemistry and physics are two sciences that are hard to connect. Yet there is significant overlap in their aims, methods, and theoretical approaches. In this book, the reduction of chemistry to physics is defended from the viewpoint of a naturalised Nagelian reduction, which is based on a close reading of Nagel's original text. This naturalised notion of reduction is capable of characterising the inter-theory relationships between theories of chemistry and theories of physics. The reconsideration of reduction also (...) leads to a new characterisation of chemical theories. This book is primarily aimed at philosophers of chemistry and chemists with an interest in philosophy, but is also of interest to the general philosopher of science. (shrink)
This comprehensive volume marks a new standard in scholarship in the still emerging field of the philosophy of chemistry. With selections drawn from a wide range of scholarly disciplines, philosophers, chemists, and historians of science here converge to ask some of the most fundamental questions about the relationship between philosophy and chemistry. What can chemistry teach us about longstanding disputes in the philosophy of science over such issues as reductionism, autonomy, and supervenience? And what new issues may (...)chemistry bring to the forefront now that it has joined physics and biology as a serious topic for philosophical reflection? This newest addition to the prestigious Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science series marks the true arrival of philosophy of chemistry within the corpus of the philosophy of science. (shrink)
Of Minds and Molecules is the first anthology devoted exclusively to work in the philosophy of chemistry. The essays, written by both chemists and philosophers, adopt distinctive philosophical perspectives on chemistry and collectively offer both a conceptualization of and a justification for this emerging field.
Livings things are so very strange -- The quest for a theory of life -- Understanding 'understanding' -- Stability and instability -- The knotty origin of life problem -- Biology's crisis of identity -- Biology is chemistry -- What is life?
Machine generated contents note: -- Preface -- Acknowledgments -- Introduction, by Michael Weisberg and Jeffrey Kovac. -- 1 Trying to Understand, Making Bonds, by Roald Hoffmann -- Part 1: Chemical Reasoning and Explanation -- 2. Why Buy That Theory?, by Roald Hoffmann. -- 3. What Might Philosophy of Science Look Like If Chemists Built It?, by Roald Hoffmann -- 4. Unstable, by Roald Hoffmann -- 5. Nearly Circular Reasoning, by Roald Hoffmann -- 6. Ockham's Razor and Chemistry, by Roald (...) Hoffmann, Vladimir I. Minkin, and Barry K. Carpenter -- 7. Qualitative Thinking in the Age of Modern Computational Chemistry, or What Lionel Salem Knows, by Roald Hoffmann -- 8. Narrative, by Roald Hoffmann -- 9. Learning from Molecules in Distress, by Roald Hoffmann and Henning Hopf -- 10. Why Think Up New Molecules? by Roald Hoffmann -- 11. Protean, by Roald Hoffmann and Pierre Laszlo -- 12. How Should Chemists Think? by Roald Hoffmann -- Part 2: Writing and Communicating in Chemistry -- 13. Under the Surface of the Chemical Article, by Roald Hoffmann -- 14. Representation in Chemistry, by Roald Hoffmann and Pierre Laszlo -- 15.. The Say of Things, by Roald Hoffmann and Pierre Laszlo -- 16. How Symbolic and Iconic Languages Bridge the Two Worlds of the Chemist: A Case Study from Contemporary Bioorganic Chemistry, by Emily R. Grosholz and Roald Hoffmann -- 17 How Nice to Be an Outsider, by Roald Hoffmann -- 18. The Metaphor, Unchained, by Roald Hoffmann, -- Part 3: Art and Science -- 19. Art in Science? by Roald Hoffmann -- 20. Science and Crafts by Roald Hoffmann -- 21. Molecular Beauty, by Roald Hoffmann -- Part 4 Chemical Education -- 22. Teach to Search by Roald Hoffmann -- 23. Some Heretical Thoughts on What Our Students Are Telling Us, by Roald Hoffmann and Brian P. Coppola -- 24 Very Specific Teaching Strategies, and Why They Work, by Roald Hoffmann and Saundra Y. McGuire -- Part 5 Ethics in Science -- 25. Mind the Shade, by Roald Hoffmann -- 26. Science and Ethics: A Marriage of Necessity and Choice for this Millennium," by Roald Hoffmann -- 27. Honesty to the Singular Object, by Roald Hoffmann -- 28. The Material and Spiritual Rationales Are Inseparable, by Roald Hoffmann -- Index. (shrink)
Historical research on John Dalton has been dominated by an attempt to reconstruct the origins of his so-called "chemical atomic theory". I show that Dalton's theory is difficult to define in any concise manner, and that there has been no consensus as to its unique content among his contemporaries, later chemists, and modern historians. I propose an approach which, instead of attempting to work backward from Dalton's theory, works forward, by identifying the research questions that Dalton posed to himself and (...) attempting to understand how his hypotheses served as answers to these questions. I describe Dalton's scientific work as an evolving set of puzzles about natural phenomena. I show how an early interest in meteorology led Dalton to see the constitution of the atmosphere as a puzzle. In working on this great puzzle, he gradually turned his interest to specifically chemical questions. In the end, the web of puzzles that he worked on required him to create his own novel philosophy of chemistry for which he is known today. (shrink)
This article provides an overview of the origins and development of green chemistry. Aiming to contribute to the understanding of green chemistry, basically from a historical point of view, this overview argues that contextual influences and the user friendliness of the term are drivers for the explosive growth of green chemistry. It is observed that political support for its development has been significant, in which the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 was a formal political starting-point, but informally (...) the origins of green chemistry go back to before 1990. US EPA played an important role in all this, but did not solely contribute to the growth of green chemistry. (shrink)
The traditional ontology within which chemistry has developed involved various versions of a general substance/attribute scheme. Recently this has been challenged by two versions of Dynamism. One version is derived from the writings of A. N. Whitehead and the other from several sources, including G. Leibniz and I. Kant. Both involve the idea of flux of actual occasions. Unlike the former scheme, the latter involves a foundation of causal powers and the energetics of field theory. The situation has been (...) made more interesting because of the revival of trope theory, based on an ontology of particularized attributes. This notion is claimed to resolve philosophical problems about the nature of universals and of substances through the introduction of spatial and temporal sequences of tropes. While trope theory seems, at first sight, to work as an attractive alternative to substance/attribute close inspection shows that it is beset with difficulties that are more problematic that the dynamist ontology based on casual powers, dispositions and affordances. (shrink)
In this paper I expand Eric Scerri’s notion of Popper’s naturalised approach to reduction in chemistry and investigate what its consequences might be. I will argue that Popper’s naturalised approach to reduction has a number of interesting consequences when applied to the reduction of chemistry to physics. One of them is that it prompts us to look at a ‘bootstrap’ approach to quantum chemistry, which is based on specific quantum theoretical theorems and practical considerations that turn quantum (...) ‘theory’ into quantum ‘chemistry’ proper. This approach allows us to investigate some of the principles that drive theory formation in quantum chemistry. These ‘enabling theorems’ place certain limits on the explanatory latitude enjoyed by quantum chemists, and form a first step into establishing the relationship between chemistry and physics in more detail. (shrink)
Organic chemists have been able to develop a robust, theoretical understanding of the phenomena they study; however, the primary theoretical devices employed in this field are not mathematical equations or laws, as is the case in most other physical sciences. Instead it is diagrams, and in particular structural formulas and potential energy diagrams, that carry the explanatory weight in the discipline. To understand how this is so, it is necessary to investigate both the nature of the diagrams employed in organic (...)chemistry and how these diagrams are used in the explanations of the discipline. I will begin this paper by characterizing some of the major ways that structural formulas used in organic chemistry. Next I will present a model of the explanations in organic chemistry and describe how both structural formulas and potential energy diagrams contribute to these explanations. This will be followed by several examples that support my abstract account of the role of diagrams in the explanations of organic chemistry. In particular, I will consider both the appeal to ‘hyperconjugation’ in the explanation of alkene stability and how the idea of ‘ring strain’ was developed to explain the relative stability of cyclic compounds. (shrink)
Using the notorious bridge law “water is H 2 O” and the relation between molecular structure and quantum mechanics as examples, I argue that it doesn’t make sense to aim for specific definition(s) of intertheoretical or interdiscourse relation(s) between chemistry and physics (reduction, supervenience, what have you). Proposed definitions of interdiscourse and part-whole relations are interesting only if they provide insight in the variegated interconnected patchwork of theories and beliefs. There is “automatically” some sort of interdiscourse relation if different (...) discourses claim to have something to say about the same situation (event, system), which is the basis of (contingent) local supervenience relations, which, proper empirically support being provided, can be upgraded to ceteris paribus bridge laws. Because of the ceteris paribus feature, and the discourse dependence of event identification, there is at best only global supervenience of the “special sciences” on the physical (and of parts of physics on other parts of physics). (shrink)
This treatise presents thoughts on the divide that exists in chemistry between those who seek their understanding within a universe wherein the laws of physics apply and those who prefer alternative universes wherein the laws are suspended or ‘bent’ to suit preconceived ideas. The former approach is embodied in the quantum theory of atoms in molecules (QTAIM), a theory based upon the properties of a system’s observable distribution of charge. Science is experimental observation followed by appeal to theory that, (...) upon occasion, leads to new experiments. This is the path that led to the development of the molecular structure hypothesis—that a molecule is a collection atoms with characteristic properties linked by a network of bonds that impart a structure—a concept forged in the crucible of nineteenth century experimental chemistry. One hundred and fifty years of experimental chemistry underlie the realization that the properties of some total system are the sum of its atomic contributions. The concept of a functional group, consisting of a single atom or a linked set of atoms, with characteristic additive properties forms the cornerstone of chemical thinking of both molecules and crystals and Dalton’s atomic hypothesis has emerged as the operational theory of chemistry. We recognize the presence of a functional group in a given system and predict its effect upon the static, reactive and spectroscopic properties of the system in terms of the characteristic properties assigned to that group. QTAM gives physical substance to the concept of a functional group. (shrink)
The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries marks a period of transition between the vitalistic ontology that had dominated Renaissance natural philosophy and the Early Modern mechanistic paradigm endorsed by, among others, the Cartesians and Newtonians. This paper will focus on how the tensions between vitalism and mechanism played themselves out in the context of sixteenth and seventeenth century chemistry and chemical philosophy, particularly in the works of Paracelsus, Jan Baptista Van Helmont, Robert Fludd, and Robert Boyle. Rather than argue that (...) these natural philosophers each embraced either fully vitalistic or fully mechanistic ontologies, I hope to demonstrate that these thinkers adhered to complicated and nuanced ontologies that cannot be described in either purely vitalistic or purely mechanistic terms. A central feature of my argument is the claim that a corpuscularian theory of matter does not entail a strictly mechanistic and reductionistic account of chemical properties. I also argue that what marks the shift from pre-modern vitalistic chemical philosophy to the modern chemical philosophy that marked the Chemical Revolution is not the victory of mechanism and reductionism in chemistry but, rather, the shift to a physicalistic and naturalistic account of chemical properties and vital spirits. (shrink)
A review of the chemical education research literature suggests that the term constructivism is used in two ways: experience-based constructivism and discipline-based constructivism. These two perspectives are examined as an epistemology in relation to the teaching and learning of the concept of idealization in chemistry. It is claimed that experience-based constructivism is powerless to inform the origin of such concepts in chemistry and while discipline-based constructivism can admit such theoretical concepts as idealization it does not offer any unique (...) perspectives that cannot be obtained from other models. Chemical education researchers do not consistently appeal to constructivism as an epistemology or as a teaching/learning perspective and it is shown that, while it draws attention to worthwhile teaching/learning strategies, it cannot be considered as foundational to chemical education research and tends to be used more as an educational label than as an undergirding theory. (shrink)
In 1931 eminent chemist Fritz Paneth maintained that the modern notion of “element” is closely related to (and as “metaphysical” as) the concept of element used by the ancients (e.g., Aristotle). On that basis, the element chlorine (properly so-called) is not the elementary substance dichlorine, but rather chlorine as it is in carbon tetrachloride. The fact that pure chemicals are called “substances” in English (and closely related words are so used in other European languages) derives from philosophical compromises made by (...) grammarians in the late Roman Empire (particularly Priscian [fl. ~520 CE]). When the main features of the constitution of isotopes became clear in the first half of the twentieth century, the formal (IUPAC) definition of a “chemical element” was changed. The features that are “essential” to being an element had previously been “transcendental” (“beyond the sphere of consciousness”) but, by the mid-twentieth century the defining characteristics of elements, as such, had come to be understood in detail. This amounts to a shift in a “horizon of invisibility” brought about by progress in chemistry and related sciences. Similarly, chemical insight is relevant to currently-open philosophical problems, such as the status of “the bundle theory” of the coherence of properties in concrete individuals. (shrink)
The foundations of modern organic chemistry were laid by the seminal work of Hughes and Ingold. The rise from being an interesting alternative hypothesis in 1933 to being the leading theory (outside the USA) in 1942 was achieved by a multiplicity of methods. This include:the construction of a new scientific notation, the rationalisation of some seemingly contradictory reported data, the refutation of the experimental work of one of their persistent critics, the use of conceptual arguments and also the achievement (...) of a score of successful predictions which exceeded the score of unsuccessful predictions. Within the USA it was felt that the Hughes/Ingold system, whilst representing a considerable advance, had achieved spectacular success in spite ofits attractively simple basic assumptions, and represented merely an interim stage on the way towards a more comprehensive theory. However,the flexible, simple notation was adopted without modification, leading to a change in the way practitioners of synthetic organic chemistry were, and still are, trained to think. In a conclusion the author claims that this historical episode does not lend any support to the philosophical position of Thomas Kuhn. (shrink)
The autonomy of chemistry and the legitimacy of the philosophy of chemistry are usually discussed in the context of the issue of reduction of chemistry to physics, and defended making use of the failure of reductionistic claims. Until quite recent times a rather widespread viewpoint was, however, that the failure of reductionistic claims concerns actually epistemological aspect of reduction only, but the ontological reduction of chemistry to physics cannot be denied. The new problems of the autonomy (...) of chemistry in the context of reductionism seem to be ontological and metaphysical. In the present paper it is argued that there is no need for some kind of metaphysical-ontological underpinning for rejection of the secondary positions of chemistry and philosophy of chemistry with respect to physics and philosophy of physics. The issue can be elucidated in terms of the philosophy of science accepting practical realism (also known by other names). (shrink)
If chemistry is to be taught successfully, teachers must have a good subject matter knowledge (SK) of the ideas with which they are dealing, the nature of this falling within the orbit of philosophy of chemistry. They must also have a good pedagogic content knowledge (PCK), the ability to communicate SK to students, the nature of this falling within the philosophy and psychology of chemical education. Taking the case of models and modelling, important themes in the philosophy of (...)chemistry, an interview-based study was conducted into the SK and PCK of a sample of teachers in Brazil. This paper focuses on the results of the university chemistry teacher sub-sample in that enquiry, analyses their SK and PCK, and speculates on the implications of this for the education of school teachers. Finally, it suggests approaches to the professional development of university chemistry teachers that place an emphasis on the philosophy of chemistry. (shrink)
In his classic work The Mind and its Place in Nature published in 1925 at the height of the development of quantum mechanics but several years after the chemists Lewis and Langmuir had already laid the foundations of the modern theory of valence with the introduction of the covalent bond, the analytic philosopher C. D. Broad argued for the emancipation of chemistry from the crass physicalism that led physicists then and later—with support from a rabblement of philosophers who knew (...) as much about chemistry as etymologists—to believe that chemistry reduced to physics. Here Broad’s thesis is recast in terms more familiar to chemists. In the hard sell of particle physics, several prominent figures in chemistry—Hoffmann, Primas, and Pauling—have had their views interpreted to imply that they were sympathetic to greedy reductionism when in fact they were not. Indeed, being chemists without physicists as alter egos, they could not but side with Broad’s contention that chemistry, as a science that deals primarily in emergent phenomena which are beyond the purview of physicalism, owes no acquiescence to particle physics and its ethereal wares. Historically, among the most widely used expediencies in chemistry and materials science are additivity or mixture rules and their cohort transferability, all of which are devised and used under the mantle of naive reductionism. Here it is argued that while the transfer of functional groups between molecules works empirically to an extent, it is strictly outlawed by the no-cloning theorem of quantum mechanics. Several illustrative examples related to chemistry’s irreducibility to physics are presented and discussed. The failure of naive reductionism exhibited by the deep-inelastic scattering of leptons by A > 2 nuclei is traced to the same flawed reasoning that was the original basis of Moffitt’s ‘atoms in molecules’ hypothesis, the neglect of context, nuclei in the case of high-energy physics and molecules in the case of chemistry. A non-exhaustive list of other contexts from physics, chemistry, and molecular biology evidencing similar departures from the ideal of additivity or reductionism is provided for the perusal of philosophers. Had the call by the mathematician J. T. Schwartz for developments in mathematical linguistics possessed of a less single, less literal, and less simple-minded nature been met, perhaps it might have persuaded scientists to abandon their regressive fixation with unphysical reductionism and to adapt to new methodologies that engender a more nuanced handling of ubiquitous emergent phenomena as they arise in Nature than is the case today. (shrink)
The drive towards clean technology in the chemical industry with an increasing emphasis on the reduction of waste at source requires a level of innovation and new technology that the chemical industry is beginning to adopt. The greenchemistry revolution provides an enormous number of opportunities to discover and apply new synthetic approaches using alternative feedstocks; ecofriendly reaction conditions, energy minimizations and the design of less toxic and inherently safer chemicals. In this review exciting opportunities and some successful (...) examples of greenchemistry in practice are described. While developments in the 20th century have brought various social and economic benefits to the people but these changes have also caused a range of environmental problems at both local and global levels. Over recent years, sustainable development has been accepted by government, industry and the public as a necessary goal for achieving social, economic and environmental objectives (Uark, 1999). Within this, greenchemistry (www.chemsoc.org/gen) plays a key role in maintaining and improving quality of our life and preserving natural environments. The term ‘GreenChemistry’ was first coined by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the early 1990s and major interest in greenchemistry in the US began in earnest with the passage of the ‘Pollution Prevention Act’ of 1990. Thus GreenChemistry becoming a formal focus of the EPA in 1991. (shrink)
The main aim of the paper is to reinforce the notion that emergence is a basic characteristic of the molecular sciences in general and chemistry in particular. Although this point is well accepted, even in the primary reference on emergence, the keyword emergence is rarely utilized by chemists and molecular biologists and chemistry textbooks for undergraduates. The possible reasons for this situation are discussed. The paper first re-introduces the concept of emergence based on very simple geometrical forms; and (...) considers some simple chemical examples among low and high molecular weight compounds. On the basis of these chemical examples, a few interesting philosophical issues inherent to the field of emergence are discussed – again making the point that such examples, given their clarity and simplicity, permit one to better understand the complex philosophical issues. Thus, the question of predictability is discussed, namely whether and to what extent can emergent properties be predicted on the basis of the component’s properties; or the question of the explicability (a top down process). The relation between reductionism and emergentism is also discussed as well as the notion of downward causality and double causality (macrodeterminism); namely the question whether and to what extent the emergent properties of the higher hierarchic level affect the properties of the lower level components. Finally, the question is analyzed, whether life can be considered as an emergent property. More generally, the final point is made, that the re-introduction of the notion of emergence in chemistry, and in particular in the teaching, may bring about a deeper understanding of the meaning of chemical complexity and may bring chemistry closer to the humanistic areas of philosophy and epistemology. (shrink)
After a long period of neglect, the philosophy of chemistry is slowly being recognized as a newly emerging branch of the philosophy of science. This paper endorses and defends this emergence given the difficulty of reducing all of the philosophical problems raised by chemistry to those already being considered within the philosophy of physics, and recognition that many of the phenomena in chemistry are epistemologically emergent.
Immanuel Kant has built up a dualistic epistemology that seems to fit to the peculiarities of chemistry quite well. Friedrich Paneth used Kant’s concept and characterised simple and basic substances which refer to the empirical and to the transcendental world, respectively. This paper takes account of the Kantian influences in Paneth’s philosophy of chemistry, and discusses pertinent topics, like observables, atomism and realism.
In this paper we present a semantic analysis of the application of didactic constructivism to chemical education. We show that the psychological basis of constructivism yield, when applied to chemistry, an internalist semantics for the chemical names. Since these names have been presented as typical examples of an externalism for kind terms, a fundamental incompatibility ensues. We study this situation, to conclude that it affects chemical education at every level. Finally, we present a preliminary analysis of this problem from (...) the point of view of physics. (shrink)
A personal account is presented for the present status of mathematical chemistry, with emphasis on non-numerical applications. These use mainly graph-theoretical concepts. Most computational chemical applications involve quantum chemistry and are therefore largely reducible to physics, while discrete mathematical applications often do not. A survey is provided for opinions and definitions of mathematical chemistry, and then for journals, books and book series, as well as symposia of mathematical chemistry.
This paper analyzes views of the Stoic philosopher Posidonius (1st century BC) in the light of modern Chemistry. I propose that Posidonius’ account on “generation and destruction” bears noteworthy similarities to the scientific notions of chemical elements, chemical species, nuclear reactions, and the law of conservation of mass. I find that his views compare favorably also with our understanding of chemical change at solid surfaces. Provided his thought is correctly placed in the cultural context of his day, I argue (...) that Posidonius deserves a previously un-acknowledged consideration in the historical background of modern Chemistry. (shrink)
The problem of the peculiarcharacter of chemical laws and theories is a central topic in philosophy of chemistry. Oneof the most characteristic and, at the sametime, most puzzling examples in discussions onchemical laws and theories is Mendeleev''speriodic law. This law seems to be essentiallydifferent in its nature from the exact laws ofclassical physics, the latter being usuallyregarded as a paradigm of science byphilosophers. In this paper the main argumentsconcerning the peculiar character of chemicallaws and theories are examined. The laws (...) ofchemistry are natural laws to the same extentas are the laws of physics. The law discoveredby Mendeleev is a normal law of nature. It isnot a law of physics, nevertheless, it is exactin the same philosophical sense as are the lawsof physics. The periodic system of chemicalelements was established by constructing anidealized system of idealized elements. Thefundamental idealization substantiated byexperimental chemistry was the chemicalelement as a place in the periodicsystem. (shrink)
The rich and ongoing debate about constructivism in chemistry education includes questions about the relationship, for better or worse, between applications of the theory in pedagogy and in epistemology. This paper presents an examination of the potential to use connections of epistemological and pedagogical constructivism to one another. It examines connections linked to the content, processes, and premises of science with a goal of prompting further research in these areas.
I argue in the paper that classical chemistry is a science predominantly concerned with material substances, both useful materials and pure chemical substances restricted to scientific laboratory studies. The central epistemological and methodological status of material substances corresponds with the material productivity of classical chemistry and its way of producing experimental traces. I further argue that chemist’s ‘pure substances’ have a history, conceptually and materially, and I follow their conceptual history from the Paracelsian concept of purity to the (...) modern concept of pure stoichiometric compounds. The history of the concept of ‘pure substances’ shows that modern chemists’ concept of purity abstracted from usefulness rather than being opposed to it. Thus modern chemists’ interest in pure chemical substances does not presuppose a concept of pure science. (shrink)
The focus of this contribution lies on eighteenth-century chemistry up to Lavoisier’s anti-phlogistic chemical system. Some main features of chemistry in this period will be examined by discussing classificatory practices and the understanding of the substances these practices imply. In particular, the question will be discussed of whether these practices can be regarded as natural historical practices and, hence, whether chemistry itself was a special natural history (part I). Furthermore, discussion of the famous Methode de nomenclature chimique (...) (1787) raises the question of what modes of classification tell us about chemists’ understanding of the substances they deal with (part II). Finally, in investigating what taxonomic orders reveal about deep structures of chemists’ understanding of the world of substances, the contribution will examine the question of whether Lavoisier’s anti-phlogistic chemical system was a revolution on the level of a deep structure or a revision within the untouched frame of such a structure (part III). (shrink)
We analyze the connections of Lavoisier system of nomenclature with Leibniz’s philosophy, pointing out to the resemblance between what we call Leibnizian and Lavoisian programs. We argue that Lavoisier’s contribution to chemistry is something more subtle, in so doing we show that the system of nomenclature leads to an algebraic system of chemical sets. We show how Döbereiner and Mendeleev were able to develop this algebraic system and to find new interesting properties for it. We pointed out the resemblances (...) between Leibniz program and Lavoisier legacy, particularly regarding the lingua philosophica for understanding and thinking Nature, in this particular case, chemistry. In the second part we discuss, from the linguistic viewpoint, how Lavoisian algebraic system may be taken further to build a language. We study the constituents of such a chemical language. Finally, we formalize some of the ideas here presented by using elements of network theory and discrete mathematics. (shrink)
In this paper I present a historiography of the recent emergence of philosophy of chemistry. Special attention is given to the interest in this domain in Eastern Europe before the collapse of the USSR. It is shown that the initial neglect of the philosophy of chemistry is due to the unanimous view in philosophy and philosophy of science that only physics is a proper science (to put in Kant's words). More recently, due to the common though incorrect assumption (...) that chemistry can in principle be reduced to physics, the neglect continued, even when interest in sciences such as biology and psychology entered more strongly in philosophy of science. It is concluded that chemistry is an autonomous science and is perhaps a more typical science than physics. (shrink)
Biology in the popular mind remains tied to the doctrines of the struggle forsurvival and the survival of the fittest. Physics is linked to the heat deathof the universe – the inexorable march towards greater disorder,increasing entropy. Our field, on the other hand, focuses on orderedstructures, molecules and crystals, and their aggregates, and what holdsthem together. The philosophy of chemistry is centered on affinity,cohesion, the architecture of the very small, attraction, harmony, and, ifyou permit, beauty. Our discipline is the (...) voice of the twenty-first century,a message, a clarion call of life, of hope. This paper addresses failures ofreductionist and deterministic claims in the face of the cussedness ofchemical facts. It will examine uncertainty principles, Edmund Whitaker'spostulates of impotence, Gerald Holton's themata, Isaiah Berlin's warning –and the wisdom of the Chinese. We can teach the world the need for humilityin the face of the wonder and mystery of our world. (shrink)
This essay offers a preliminary philosophy ofchemistry as a profession focusing on professionalethics. First, I look at how well chemistry fits themodel of a liberal profession. I then explore therelationship between epistemology and ethics. Therelationship between chemistry and society isdiscussed in the context of the two-dimensionalclassification of research developed by Donald Stokesin his book Pasteur's Quadrant. Finally, Iraise the questions of an appropriate moral ideal forchemistry and the ethical conflicts that can occurwhen chemists simultaneously fulfill more than one (...) role. (shrink)
Thought experiments in the history of science display a striking asymmetry between chemistry and physics, namely that chemistry seems to lack well-known examples, whereas physics presents many famous examples. This asymmetry, I argue, is not independent data concerning the chemistry/physics distinction. The laws of chemistry such as the periodic table are incurably special, in that they make testable predictions only for a very restricted range of physical conditions in the universe which are necessarily conditioned by the (...) contingences of chemical investigation. The argument depends on how ‚thought experiment’ is construed. Here, several recent accounts of thought experiments are surveyed to help formulate what I call ‚crucial’ thought experiments. These have a historical role in helping to judge between hypotheses in physics, but are not helpful in chemistry past or present. (shrink)
Research into learners'' ideas aboutscience suggests that school and collegestudents often hold alternative conceptionsabout `the atom''. This paper discusses whylearners acquire ideas about atoms which areincompatible with the modern scientificunderstanding. It is suggested that learners''alternative ideas derive – at least in part –from the way ideas about atoms are presented inthe school and college curriculum. Inparticular, it is argued that the atomicconcept met in science education is anincoherent hybrid of historical models, andthat this explains why learners commonlyattribute to atoms properties (...) (such as beingthe constituent particles of all substances, orof being indivisible and conserved inreactions) that more correctly belong to otherentities (such as molecules or sub-atomicparticles). Bachelard suggested that archaicscientific ideas act as `epistemologicalobstacles'', and here it is argued thatanachronistic notions of the atom survive inthe chemistry curriculum. These conceptualfossils encourage learners to develop an`atomic ontology'' (granting atoms `ontologicalpriority'' in the molecular model of matter); tomake the `assumption of initial atomicity'' whenconsidering chemical reactions; and to developan explanatory framework to rationalisechemical reactions which is based on thedesirability of full electron shells. Theseideas then act as impediments to thedevelopment of a modern chemical perspective onthe structure of matter, and an appreciation ofthe nature of chemical changes at the molecularlevel. (shrink)
By setting out the grammar of event causality, as developed by Hume and Mackie, in contrast to the grammar of agent causality in the natural sciences, a kind of hybrid hierarchical format for chemical explanations is sketched. From this starting point the history of agentive concepts in chemistry is displayed as a progression from Newton’s ‘forces’, through the nineteenth century concepts of ‘affinity’ and ‘valency’ to recent theories of molecular binding in terms of the migration of electrons and protons (...) as powerful particulars. The final stage of this development is the rewriting of chemical theory in terms of energy. (shrink)
This paper investigates the interface between philosophy and biochemistry. While it is problematic to justify the application of a particular philosophical model to biochemistry, it seems to be even more difficult to develop a special “Philosophy for Biochemistry”. Alternatively, philosophy can be used in biochemistry based on an alternative approach that involves an interdependent iteration process at a philosophical and (bio)chemical level (“Exeter Method”). This useful iteration method supplements more abstract approaches at the interface between philosophy and natural sciences, and (...) serves the biochemical community to systematically locate logical inconsistencies that arise from more theoretical aspects of the scientific process. Initial cycles of this iteration process identify the in vitro–in vivo problem as a central epistemological difficulty in biochemical research. While previous attempts have generated ad hoc rules to mend the gap between chemistry, biochemistry and biology in order to justify in vitro experimentation, this paper concludes that in vitro experimentation is heavily based on chemistry and cannot derive definite statements about biological processes. It can, however, generate results that will influence the direction of future biological research. The consequence is that the relationship between in vitro and in vivo experimentation is more of a psychological or social one than of a logical nature. Apart from highlighting these inconsistencies in biochemical thinking (“problem awareness”), the Exeter Method demands an improvement of biochemical terminology that contains separate and unequivocally defined terms for in vitro and in vivo systems. (shrink)
The problem of complexity is considered within the framework of concepts developed in recent studies in the philosophy of chemistry. According to previously expressed ideas about diminishing interactions (Vančik, 1999), as well as on the basis of the concept of levels of complexity, we speculate here that the complexity should approach its final limit. On the other hand, dynamical complexity may grow ad infinitum, and relativistic effects can only limit it. Impacts of these considerations on a possible change of (...) actual paradigm of cosmology, especially on the anthropic principle, are also discussed. (shrink)
One of the main functions that introductory chemistry courses havefulfilled during the past century has been to provide evidence for the generalvalidity of 'the atomic hypothesis.' A second function has been to demonstratethat an analytical approach has wide applicability in rationalizing many kindsof phenomena. Following R.G. Collingwood, these two functions can be recognizedas related to a philosophical 'cosmology' (worldview, weltanshauung) thatbecame dominant in the late Renaissance. Recent developments in many areasof science, and in chemistry, have emphasized the central (...) importance of understandingsynthetic, developmental, and evolutionary aspects of nature. This paperargues that these scientific developments, and changes in other aspects of culture,amount to a widespread shift to an alternative cosmology, a quite different generalworldview. To the extent that this is the case, introductory chemistry coursesought to be changed in fundamental ways. Rather than having a main focus onanalysis to microscopic components, introductory chemistry instruction shouldemphasize current scientific understanding of the (synthetic) evolutionary originsof the present world. This altered approach would provide good preparation forfuture professional work, while also making better contact with the perceivedconcerns of students. (shrink)
As a youngster of perhaps 8 years, Charles S. Peirce was given a chemistry laboratory in which he probably did experiments in qualitative analysis. These experiments were modeled on the hypothetico-deductive method of inquiry. I argue that this laboratory experience initiated Peirce’s life-long interest in logic and the logic of science, and flowered in his “pragmaticism.”.
This work explores the nature of chemistry as an autonomous science and philosophical consequences of generalizations of some chemical aspects. Chemistry is regarded in its distinction from physics, going back to the alchemical aim for the ultimate experiment rather than for all explaining theory. Topology, shape, valence etc. are identified as typically chemical concepts. The contribution of chemistry to the general theory of complexity is demonstrated by approach of diminishing interactions by which smaller and smaller energy increments (...) are needed to move from one level to another one of higher complexity. (shrink)
After Heitler and London published their pioneering work on the application of quantum mechanics to chemistry in 1927, it became an almost unquestioned dogma that chemistry would soon disappear as a discipline of its own rights. Reductionism felt victorious in the hope of analytically describing the chemical bond and the structure of molecules. The old quantum theory has already produced a widely applied model for the structure of atoms and the explanation of the periodic system. This paper will (...) show two examples of the entry of quantum physics into more classical fields of chemistry: inorganic chemistry and physical chemistry. Due to their professional networking, George Hevesy and Michael Polanyi found their ways to Niels Bohr and Fritz London, respectively, to cooperate in solving together some problems of classical chemistry. Their works on rare earth elements and adsorption theory throws light to the application of quantum physics outside the reductionist areas. They support the heuristic and persuasive value of quantum thinking in the 1920–1930s. Looking at Polanyi’s later oeuvre, his experience with adsorption theory could be a starting point of his non-justificationist philosophy. (shrink)
A systems theory for chemistry is proposed in order to provide a general framework, which covers different theoretical approaches used in the molecular sciences.The basic elements of systems theory are introduced and discussed.By construction, this systems chemistry offers classification and categorizationschemes that will help to identify the range of applicability of certain theoretical approachesas well as to find yet unanswered fundamental questions. Consequently, it will be of value not only to thosewho want to understand and study the structure (...) of chemistry, but it might also be of importance to daily research in chemistry. (shrink)
According to ‘standard histories’ of nanotechnology, the colorful pictures of atoms produced by scanning probe microscopists since the 1980s essentially inspired visions of molecular nanotechnology. In this paper, I provide an entirely different account that, nonetheless, refers to aesthetic inspiration, First, I argue that the basic idea of molecular nanotechnology, i.e., producing molecular devices, has been the goal of supramolecular chemistry that emerged earlier, without being called nanotechnology. Secondly, I argue that in supramolecular chemistry the production of molecular (...) devices was inspired by an aesthetic phenomenon of gestalt switch, by certain images that referred to both molecules and ordinary objects, and thus symbolically bridged the two worlds. This opened up a new way of perceiving and drawing molecular images and new approaches to chemical synthesis. Employing Umberto Eco’s semiotic theory of aesthetics, I analyze the gestalt switch and the inspiration to build molecular devices and to develop a new sign language for supramolecular chemistry. More generally, I argue that aesthetic phenomena can play an important role in directing scientific research and that aesthetic theories can help understand such dynamics, such that they need to be considered in philosophy of science. (shrink)
In the philosophy of chemistry a view is developed according to which laws of nature and scientific theories are peculiar in chemistry. This view was criticized in an earlier issue of the Foundations of Chemistry (Vihalemm, Foundation of Chemistry 5(1): 7–22, 2003) referring to an essay by Maureen and John Christie (Christie and Christie, in N. Bushan and S. Rosenfeld (Eds.), Of Minds and Molecules: New Philosophical Perspectives on Chemistry. Oxford University Press, New York, 2000, (...) pp. 34–50). This criticism was responded by the Christies (Christie and Christie, Foundations of Chemistry 5(2): 165–177, 2003). In the present article the debate is continued. The main issues which need to be elucidated in order to carry the analysis forward are pointed out and discussed. The relevance of a theoretical model of science for the philosophy of chemistry is stressed. (shrink)
Herbert W. Roesky and Dietmar K. Kennepohl (eds): Experiments in green and sustainable chemistry Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-2 DOI 10.1007/s10698-011-9142-9 Authors George B. Kauffman, Department of Chemistry, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA 93740-8034, USA Journal Foundations of Chemistry Online ISSN 1572-8463 Print ISSN 1386-4238.
Traditional philosophy of science regards theoretical reasoning, based on the example of Euclidian geometry, as the hallmark of a mature science. There is, however, a parallel tradition of practical reasoning based on specific cases that goes back to Aristotle. In this paper I argue that practical reasoning is an essential part of the practice of chemistry and should be understood and appreciated on its own merits rather than regarded as a symbol of the immaturity and inferiority of chemistry (...) as a science. (shrink)
Chemistry is concerned with all aspects of the changing of one kind of matter into another. It has many parts and all but one of these are so different from all the adjacent sciences that their distinctness is obvious; the exception is physical chemistry. The activities of its practitioners resemble prima facie those of physicists. These however deal with unchanging matter that retains its chemical identity, and virtually all their experimental information is numerical. The physical chemist's concerns are (...) the nature, extent, and rate of chemical changes, and on these much information may be gathered by the observer's unaided senses.A fundamental feature or chemistry with few parallels in other sciences is that the variables determining chemical behaviour include the purity of reaction vessels, reagents, and the gas-phase in contact with these, as well as the exact experimental procedures when bringing about the chemical changes. For this reason, when encountering ostensibly new chemical phenomena, it is even more important than in other areas to distinguish between repeatability (of phenomena, e.g. explosions) and reproducibility (of quantities, e.g. reduction potentials). The distinction is not always clear, as differences of degree may develop into differences of kind. Unrepeatability may be of great heuristic significance, but irreproducibility is often of trivial origin. Examples from the author's researches illustrate how chemical behaviour, e.g. electrochemical conductivity or the nature of a product, such as the shape of a polymer molecule, can be altered profoundly by very small changes of experimental conditions, which is uncommon in other sciences. (shrink)
This work explores the nature of chemistry as an autonomous science and philosophical consequences of generalizations of some chemical aspects. Chemistry is regarded in its distinction from physics, going back to the alchemical aim for the ultimate experiment rather than for all explaining theory. Topology, shape, valence etc. are identified as typically chemical concepts. The contribution of chemistry to the general theory of complexity is demonstrated by approach of diminishing interactions by which smaller and smaller energy increments (...) are needed to move from one level to another one of higher complexity. (shrink)
Shortly before his death, Richard Bader commented in this Journal on the dichotomy that exists within chemistry and between chemists. We believe that the dichotomy results from different goals and objectives inherent in the chemical disciplines. At one extreme are designers who synthesize new molecules with interesting properties. For these chemists, the rationale underpinning molecular synthesis is far less important than the end product—the molecules themselves. At the other extreme are the chemists who seek a fundamental understanding of molecular (...) properties. We suggest that the Quantum Theory of Atoms in Molecules, by virtue of the rich hierarchical structure inherent in the theory, offers a bridge through which to unite these two groups. However, if there is to be reconciliation, it falls to the theorists to develop “quantum mechanically” correct tools and concepts useful to the synthetic and applied chemist. (shrink)
Bassam Z. Shakhashiri: Chemical demonstrations: a handbook for teachers of chemistry, Volume 5 Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-2 DOI 10.1007/s10698-011-9137-6 Authors George B. Kauffman, Department of Chemistry, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA 93740-8034, USA Journal Foundations of Chemistry Online ISSN 1572-8463 Print ISSN 1386-4238.
Kenneth J. Klabunde and Ryan M. Richards (Eds): Nanoscale materials in chemistry, 2nd edn Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-2 DOI 10.1007/s10698-011-9131-z Authors George B. Kauffman, Department of Chemistry, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA 93740-8034, USA Journal Foundations of Chemistry Online ISSN 1572-8463 Print ISSN 1386-4238.
The drastically increasing availability ofmodern computers coupled with the equally drasticallylower cost of a given amount of computer power inrecent years has resulted in the evolution of thetraditional experimental/theoretical dichotomy inchemistry into anexperimental/theoretical/computational trichotomy. This trichotomy can be schematically represented by atriangle (the ETC triangle) with experimental,theoretical, and computational chemistry at the threevertices. The ET and EC edges of the ETC triangledepict the uses of theoretical and computationalchemistry, respectively, to predict and interpretexperimental results. The TC edge depicts therelationship between (...) theoretical and computationalchemistry. Mathematics plays an increasing role in allaspects of chemistry, particularly theoreticalchemistry, and has led to the evolution of thediscipline of mathematical chemistry. Research inmathematical chemistry can be considered to lie on achemistry-mathematics continuum depending on therelative depths of the underlying chemistry andmathematics. Examples of the author's own researchlying near each end of the chemistry-mathematicscontinuum include his work on applications of graphtheory and topology in inorganic coordination andcluster chemistry <span class='Hi'>lying</span> near the chemistry end and hiswork on chirality algebra <span class='Hi'>lying</span> near the mathematicsend. The general points in this essay are illustratedby an analysis of the roles of computational andtheoretical chemistry in developing an understandingof structure and bonding in deltahedral boranes andrelated carboranes. This work has allowed extensionof the concept of aromaticity from two dimensions asin benzene and other planar hydrocarbons to the thirddimension in deltahedral boranes. (shrink)
Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent and Jonathan Simon: Chemistry, the impure science Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-2 DOI 10.1007/s10698-011-9132-y Authors George B. Kauffman, Department of Chemistry, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA 93740-8034, USA Journal Foundations of Chemistry Online ISSN 1572-8463 Print ISSN 1386-4238.
This paper analyses Richard Bader’s ‘operational’ view of quantum mechanics and the role it plays in the the explanation of chemistry. I argue that QTAIM can partially be reconstructed as an ‘austere’ form of quantum mechanics, which is in turn committed to an eliminative concept of reduction that stems from Kemeny and Oppenheim. As a reductive theory in this sense, the theory fails. I conclude that QTAIM has both a regulatory and constructive function in the theories of chemistry.
This article will explore whether there are arguments for Aristotle's concept mixis which can aid our current discussions within the philosophy of chemistry. We remain troubled by the way and extent to which chemical substance in bulk can be identified with or reduced to the stability and structure of molecules, and whether these in turn can be identified with or reduced to elemental atoms and the quantum theoretical characterization of their electrons. Aristotle was as determined as we are to (...) think through the implications of substances comprised of constituents and to question their status in chemical compounds. (shrink)
The 16th and 17th centuries marked a period of transition from the vitalistic ontology that had dominated Renaissance natural philosophy to the Early Modern mechanistic paradigm endorsed by, among others, the Cartesians and Newtonians. This paper focuses on how the tensions between vitalism and mechanism played themselves out in the context of 16th and 17th century chemistry and chemical philosophy. The paper argues that, within the fields of chemistry and chemical philosophy, the significant transition that culminated in the (...) 18th century Chemical Revolution was not a transition from vitalism to full-blown mechanism. Rather, chemical philosophy shifted from a vitalistic theory of matter and spirits to a naturalistic, physicalistic, and corpuscularian conception of chemical properties and reactions. Despite being naturalistic, physicalistic, and corpuscularian, however, this theory was not fully mechanistic. Special attention is paid to the contributions made by Paracelsus, Sebastien Basso, Jan Baptista van Helmont, and Robert Boyle to this ontological transition. (shrink)
Ellis argues that certain essential properties of objects in the world not only determine the nature of these objects but also how they will behave in any situation. In this paper I will critique Ellis's essentialism from the perspective of the philosophy of chemistry, arguing that our current knowledge of chemistry in fact does not lend itself to essentialist interpretations and that this seriously undercuts Ellis's project. In particular I will criticize two key distinctions Ellis draws between internal (...) vs. external properties and essential vs. accidental properties, showing that at the chemical level such distinctions are insupportable. If essential properties only exist at the level of sub-atomic physics, then Ellis's hopes that essentialism will provide a theoretical basis for a philosophy of chemistry are at best hopes for a very distant future, since the argument that chemical structure and dynamics can be explained at the quantum level derived is purely from analogy to much simpler systems than those chemists actually study. This suggests that we have very little scientific evidence that scientific essentialism is a viable ontology. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556; e-mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
Summary Opinion is divided as to whether chemistry is reducible to physics. The problem can be given a satisfactory solution provided three conditions are met: that a science not be identified with its theories; that several notions of theory dependence be distinguished; and that quantum chemistry, rather than classical chemistry, be compared with physics. This paper proposes to perform all three tasks. It does so by analyzing the methodological concepts concerned as well as by examining the way (...) a chemical rate constant is derivable with the help of the quantum atomic theory. The conclusion is that chemistry, and in particular quantum chemistry, is not a part of physics although it is certainly based on the latter. (shrink)
By the 1960s many (perhaps most) philosophers had adopted ‘physicalism’ ─ the view that physical causes fully account for mental activities. However, controversy persists about what count as ‘physical causes’. ‘Reductive’ physicalists recognize only microphysical (elementary-particle-level) causality. Many (perhaps most) physicalists are ‘non-reductive’ ─ they hold that entities considered by other (‘special’) sciences have causal powers. Philosophy of chemistry can help resolve main issues in philosophy of mind in three ways: developing an extended mereology applicable to chemical combination, testing (...) whether ‘singularities’ prevent reduction of chemistry to microphysics, and demonstrating ‘downward causation’ in complex networks of chemical reactions. (shrink)
Organic chemistry provides fertile ground for scholars interested in understanding the role of non-linguistic representations in scientific thinking. In this discipline, it is not plausible to regard diagrams as simply heuristic aids for expressing or applying what is essentially a linguistic theory. Instead, it is more plausible to think of linguistic representation as supplementing theories whose principal expression is diagrammatic. Among the many sorts of diagrams employed by organic chemists, structural formulas are the most important. In this paper, by (...) examining two central episodes in the development of structural formulas—Kekulé’s proposal of a structure for benzene and Ingold’s explanation of dipole moments in terms of ‘mesomerism’—I investigate how the norms for the production and interpretation of structural formulas evolve in response to experimental results and theoretical developments. I conclude that one principal way in which structural formulas embody the theory of organic chemistry is through these evolving norms. (shrink)
Organic chemists have been able to develop a robust, theoretical understanding of the phenomena they study; however, the primary theoretical devices employed in this field are not mathematical equations or laws, as is the case in most other physical sciences. Instead it is the diagram, and in particular the structural formula, that carries the explanatory weight in the discipline. To understand how this is so, it is necessary to investigate both the nature of the diagrams employed in organic chemistry (...) and how these diagrams are used in the explanations of the discipline. I will begin this paper by describing and characterizing the roles of the most important sort of diagram used in organic chemistry. Next I will present a model of explanations in organic chemistry and describe how diagrams contribute to these explanations. This will be followed by two examples that will support my abstract account of the role of diagrams in the explanations of organic chemistry. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that the ontological interpretation of the concepts of reduction and emergence is often misleading in the philosophy of science and should nearly always be eschewed in favor of an epistemological interpretation. As a paradigm case, an example is drawn from the philosophy of chemistry to illustrate the drawbacks of “ontological reduction” and “ontological emergence,” and the virtues of an epistemological interpretation of these concepts.
The mole and Avogadro’s number are two important concepts of science that provide a link between the properties of individual atoms or molecules and the properties of bulk matter. It is clear that an early theorist of the idea of these two concepts was Avogadro. However, the research literature shows that there is a controversy about the subjects of when and by whom the mole concept was first introduced into science and when and by whom Avogadro’s number was first calculated. (...) Based on this point, the following five matters are taken into consideration in this paper. First, in order to base the subject matter on a strong ground, the historical development of understanding the particulate nature of matter is presented. Second, in 1811, Amedeo Avogadro built the theoretical foundations of the mole concept and the number 6.022 × 1023 mol−1. Third, in 1865, Johann Josef Loschmidt first estimated the number of molecules in a cubic centimetre of a gas under normal conditions as 1.83 × 1018. Fourth, in 1881, August Horstmann first introduced the concept of gram-molecular weight in the sense of today’s mole concept into chemistry and, in 1900, Wilhelm Ostwald first used the term mole instead of the term ‘gram-molecular weight’. Lastly, in 1889, Károly Than first determined the gram-molecular volume of gases under normal conditions as 22,330 cm3. Accordingly, the first value for Avogadro’s number in science history should be 4.09 × 1022 molecules/gram-molecular weight, which is calculated by multiplying Loschmidt’s 1.83 × 1018 molecules/cm3 by Than’s 22,330 cm3/gram-molecular weight. Hence, Avogadro is the originator of the ideas of the mole and the number 6.022 × 1023 mol−1, Horstmann first introduced the mole concept into science/chemistry, and Loschmidt and Than are the scientists who first calculated Avogadro’s number. However, in the science research literature, it is widely expressed that the mole concept was first introduced into chemistry by Ostwald in 1900 and that Avogadro’s number was first calculated by Jean Baptiste Perrin in 1908. As a result, in this study, it is particularly emphasised that Horstmann first introduced the mole concept into science/chemistry and the first value of Avogadro’s number in the history of science was 4.09 × 1022 molecules/gram-molecular weight and Loschmidt and Than together first calculated this number. (shrink)
Mulliken proposed an Aufbauprinzip for the molecules on the basis of molecular spectroscopy while establishing, point by point, his concept of molecular orbit. It is the concept of electronic state which becomes the lever for his attribution of electronic configurations to a molecule. In 1932, the concept of orbit was transmuted into that of the molecular orbital to integrate the probabilistic approach of Born and to achieve quantitative accuracy. On the basis of the quantum works of Hund, Wigner, Lennard-Jones and (...) group theory, he suggested the fragment method to establish the characteristics of molecular orbital for polyatomic molecules. These developments make it possible to bring elements of thought on the relation between a molecular whole and its parts . An operational realism combined with the second law of thermodynamics can pave the way for interesting tracks in the mereological study of chemical systems. (shrink)
This note is intended to address one particular issue in the relative status of Quantum Chemistry in comparison to both Chemistry and Physics. It has been suggested, in the context of the question of the reduction relations between Chemistry and Physics that Quantum Chemistry as a research programme is incapable of furnishing useful guidance to practising chemists. If true, this claim will let us qualify Quantum Chemistry as a degenerating research programme, which, due to its (...) complexity has difficulty to be applied to Chemistry. This claim is shown to be false. The replacement claim I wish to make is that Quantum Chemistry is perfectly capable of furnishing such guidance, but renders the ontological status of many models favored by chemists problematic. Quantum Chemistry, however, validates these models in an instrumental fashion. I will argue that Quantum Chemistry is a progressive research programme. (shrink)
Two articles on the reduction of chemistry are examined. The first, by McLaughlin (1992), claims that chemistry is reduced to physics and that there is no evidence for emergence or for downward causation between the chemical and the physical level. In a more recent article, Le Poidevin (2005) maintains that his combinatorial approach provides grounding for the ontological reduction of chemistry, which also circumvents some limitations in the physicalist program. †To contact the author, please write to: Department (...) of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UCLA, 607 Charles E. Young Drive East, Box 951569, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1569; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (shrink)
There is now a considerable body of published work on the epistemology of modern chemistry, especially with regard to the nature of quantum chemistry. In addition, the question of the metaphysical underpinnings of chemistry has received a good deal of attention. The present article concentrates on metaphysical considerations including the question of whether elements and groups of elements are natural kinds. It is also argued that an appeal to the metaphysical nature of elements can help to clarify (...) the re-emerging controversies among chemists regarding the placement of the elements hydrogen and helium in the periodic system and the question of whether there exists a best form of the periodic table. (shrink)
In recent years the Chemical Revolution has become a renewed focus of interest among historians of science. This interest isshaped by interpretive strategies associated with the emergence anddevelopment of the discipline of the history of science. The disciplineoccupies a contested intellectual terrain formed in part by thedevelopment and cultural entanglements of science itself. Threestages in this development are analyzed in this paper. Theinterpretive strategies that characterized each stage are elucidatedand traced to the disciplinary interests that gave rise to them. Whilepositivists (...) and whigs appropriated the history of science to thejustificatory and celebratory needs of science itself, postpositivistslinked it to philosophical models of rationality, and sociologists ofknowledge sought its sociological reconstruction. Since none of thesestrategies do justice to the complexity of historical events, a modelof the Chemical Revolution is outlined which upholds the autonomyand specificity of history and the methods used to study it. (shrink)
Two articles on the reduction of chemistry are examined. The first, by McLaughlin, claims that chemistry is reduced to physics and that there is no evidence for emergence or for downward causation between the chemical and the physical level. In a more recent article Le Poidevin maintains that his combinatorial approach provides grounding for the ontological reduction of chemistry and also circumvents some limitations in the physicalist program. In examining the scientific issues that each author has (...) discussed the present author finds some shortcomings in both of these approaches. (shrink)
Does chemistry reduce to physics? If this means ‘Can we derive the laws of chemistry from the laws of physics?’, recent discussions suggest that the answer is ‘no’. But sup posing that kind of reduction—‘epistemological reduction’—to be impossible, the thesis of ontological reduction may still be true: that chemical properties are determined by more fundamental properties. However, even this thesis is threatened by some objections to the physicalist programme in the philosophy of mind, objections that generalize to the (...) chemical case. Two objections are discussed: that physicalism is vacuous, and that nothing grounds the asymmetry of dependence which reductionism requires. Although it might seem rather surprising that the philosophy of chemistry is affected by shock waves from debates in the philosophy of mind, these objections show that there is an argumentative gap between, on the one hand, the theoretical connection linking chemical properties with properties at the sub-atomic level, and, on the other, the philosophical thesis of ontological reduction. The aim of this paper is to identify the missing premises (among them a theory of physical possibility) that would bridge this gap. Introduction: missing elements and the mystery of discreteness The refutation of physicalism A combinatorial theory of physical possibilia Combinatorialism and the Bohr model Objections The missing premises and a disanalogy with mind. (shrink)
This paper characterizes the increase in ‘scientific understanding’ that resulted from the Ingold Revolution in organic chemistry. By describing both the sorts of explanations facilitated by Ingold’s Revolution and the sense in which organic chemistry was ‘unified’ by adopting these approaches to explanation, one can appreciate how this revolution led to a dramatic qualitative improvement in organic chemists’ understanding of the phenomena that they study. The explanatory unification responsible for this transformation in organic chemistry is contrasted with (...) contemporary philosophical accounts of unification and its relationship to both scientific understanding and explanation. (shrink)
Sir Karl Popper is one of the few authors to have discussed the reduction of chemistry. His approach consists of what I term naturalistic reduction, which I suggest bears close similarities to the way in which scientists regard reduction. The present article aims to build on Popper's insights into the nature of reduction in science and more specifically to suggest an approach to characterizing a specific sense of the notion of approximate reduction in the context of chemistry. In (...) the course of the discussion, one of Popper's better known passages on the reduction of chemistry is analysed in some detail. (shrink)
It is my pleasure to open this special issue with which we like to celebrate the fifth birthday of our journal. What was originally conceived as one special issue of HYLE that has rapidly grown to a considerable number of high quality papers for which we need at least two issues. We received a total of 19 paper submissions, some of which are still under review. The manuscripts cover nearly every aspect of models outlined in the Call for Paper (HYLE (...) 4, pp. 171f.), and much more. As far as the review procedure allows, we are going to divide the topic roughly into three topical sections, each with about four contributions. The following four papers of the present volume make up the first section that is devoted to models in quantum and computational chemistry. The second section, to be published in the next issue, is more specifically on a very peculiar type of models in chemistry: molecular models. The third and last section will be on models of complex systems, in particular in biochemistry, geochemistry, and chemical engineering. (shrink)
This paper attempts to argue for the theory-ladenness of evidence. It does so by employing and analysing an episode from the history of eighteenth century chemistry. It delineates attempts by Joseph Priestley and Antoine Lavoisier to construct entirely different kinds of evidence for and against a particular hypothesis from a set of agreed upon observations or (raw) data. Based on an augmented version of a distinction, drawn by J. Bogen and J. Woodward, between data and phenomena it is shown (...) that the role of theoretical auxiliary assumptions is very important in constructing evidence for (or against) a theory from observation or (raw) data. In revolutionary situations, rival groups hold radically different theories and theoretical auxiliary assumptions. These are employed to construct very different evidence from the agreed upon set of observations or (raw) data. Hence, theory resolution becomes difficult. It is argued that evidence construction is a multi-layered exercise and can be disputed at any level. What counts as unproblematic observation or (raw) data at one level may become problematic at another level. The contingency of these constructions and the (un)problematic nature of evidence are shown to be partially dependent upon the scientific knowledge that the scientific community possesses. (shrink)
The "usual story" regarding molecular chemistry is that it is roughly an application of quantum mechanics. That is to say, quantum mechanics supplies everything necessary and sufficient, both ontologically and epistemologically, to reduce molecular chemistry to quantum mechanics. This is a reductive story, to be sure, but a key explanatory element of molecular chemistry, namely molecular structure, is absent from the quantum realm. On the other hand, typical characterizations of emergence, such as the unpredictability or inexplicability of (...) molecular structure based on quantum mechanics, do not characterize the relationship between molecular chemistry and quantum mechanics well either. A different scheme for characterizing reduction and emergence is proposed that accommodates the relationship between quantum mechanics and molecular chemistry and some initial objections to the scheme are considered. (shrink)
The "usual story" regarding molecular chemistry is that it is roughly an application of quantum mechanics. That is to say, quantum mechanics supplies everything necessary and sufficient, both ontologically and epistemologically to reduce molecular chemistry to quantum mechanics. This is a reductive story, to be sure, but a key explanatory element of molecular chemistry, namely molecular structure, is absent from the quantum realm. On the other hand, typical characterizations of emergence, such as the unpredictability or inexplicability of (...) molecular structure based on quantum mechanics do not characterize the relationship between molecular chemistry and quantum mechanics well either. A different scheme for characterizing reduction and emergence is proposed that accommodates the relationship between quantum mechanics and molecular chemistry and some initial objections to the scheme are considered. (shrink)
The philosophical analysis of chemistry has advanced at such a pace during the last dozen years that the existence of philosophy of chemistry as an autonomous discipline cannot be doubted any more. The present paper will attempt to analyse the experience of philosophy of chemistry at the, so to say, meta-level. Philosophers of chemistry have especially stressed that all sciences need not be similar to physics. They have tried to argue for chemistry as its own (...) type of science and for a pluralistic understanding of science in general. However, when stressing the specific character of chemistry, philosophers do not always analyse the question ‘What is science?’ theoretically. It is obvious that a ‘monistic’ understanding of science should not be based simply on physics as the epitome of science, regarding it as a historical accident that physics has obtained this status. The author’s point is that the philosophical and methodological image of science should not be chosen arbitrarily; instead, it should be theoretically elaborated as an idealization (theoretical model) substantiated on the historical practice of science. It is argued that although physics has, in a sense, justifiably obtained the status of a paradigm of science, chemistry, which is not simply a physical science, but a discipline with a dual character, is also relevant for elaborating a theoretical model of science. The theoretical model of science is a good tool for examining various issues in philosophy of chemistry as well as in philosophy of science or science studies generally. (shrink)
Chemical ideas about the diversity of matter in terms of elements and compound substances and their transformations have been pivotal to any scientific or pre-scientific approach ever since. From ancient natural philosophy and alchemy to modern 19th-century chemistry, these ideas were made both the basis of philosophical systems and the target of critical reflection. After temporary interruption, when modern philosophy of science materialized as a discourse on mathematical physics, philosophy of chemistry emerged anew in the 1980s and is (...) now a flourishing field in which philosophers, chemists, and historians of chemistry are engaged. While many of the old philosophical issues have been rediscovered and discussed, new issues have appeared due to shifts of general philosophical foci, alliances with historians and sociologists of science, and the changes of chemistry and its role in society. (shrink)
Given the rich diversity of research fields usually ascribed to chemistry in a broad sense, the present paper tries to dig our characteristic parts of chemistry that can be conceptually distinguished from interdisciplinary, applied, and specialized subfields of chemistry, and that may be called chemistry in a very narrow sense, or ‘the chemical core of chemistry’. Unlike historical, ontological, and ‘anti-reductive’ approaches, I use a conceptual approach together with some methodological implications that allow to develop (...) step by step a kind of cognitive architecture for chemistry, which basically entails: (1) systematic chemical knowledge on the experimental level; (2) clarification of chemical species; (3) chemical classification systems; (4) theoretical foundation through the chemical theory of structural formulas. In a succeeding paper the results will be checked for resisting physicalistic reduction. (shrink)
In this article we critically evaluate Robin Le Poidevin's recent attempt to set out an argument for the ontological reduction of chemistry independently of intertheoretic reduction. We argue, firstly, that the argument he envisages applies only to a small part of chemistry, and that there is no obvious way to extend it. We argue, secondly, that the argument cannot establish the reduction of chemistry, properly so called.
The paper illustrates how organic chemists dramatically altered their practices in the middle part of the twentieth century through the adoption of analytical instrumentation - such as ultraviolet and infrared absorption spectroscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy - through which the difficult process of structure determination for small molecules became routine. Changes in practice were manifested in two ways: in the use of these instruments in the development of 'rule-based' theories; and in an increased focus on synthesis, at the expense (...) of chemical analysis. These rule-based theories took the form of generalizations relating structure to chemical and physical properties, as measured by instrumentation. This 'Instrumental Revolution' in organic chemistry was two-fold: encompassing an embrace of new tools that provided unprecedented access to structures, and a new way of thinking about molecules and their reactivity in terms of shape and structure. These practices suggest the possibility of a change in the ontological status of chemical structures, brought about by the regular use of instruments. The career of Robert Burns Woodward (1917-1979) provides the central historical examples for the paper. Woodward was an organic chemist at Harvard from 1937 until the time of his death. In 1965, he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. (shrink)
In 1904 Joachim published an influential paper dealing with 'Aristotle's Conception of Chemical Combination' which has provided the basis of much more recent studies. About the same time, Duhem developed what he regarded as an essentially Aristotelian view of chemistry, based on his understanding of phenomenological thermodynamics. He does not present a detailed textual analysis, but rather emphasises certain general ideas. Joachim's classic paper contains obscurities which I have been unable to fathom and theses which do not seem to (...) be fully explained, or which at least seem difficult for the modern reader to understand. An attempt is made here to provide a systematic account of the Aristotelian theory of the generation of substances by the mixing of elements by reconsidering Joachim's treatment in the light of the sort of points which most interested Duhem.The work described in this paper was undertaken with a view to providing a basis for presenting, evaluating and criticising Duhem's understanding of what was for him modern (i.e. 19th-century) chemistry. This latter project will be taken up on another occasion. I hope the present paper will be of some value to a broader philosophical readership in so far as it provides a fairly clear conception of matter which might be called Aristotelian, even if it is not precisely Aristotle's, and raises certain clear problems of interpretation. It may also be of interest to historians of chemistry in suggesting an analysis of the old chemical notion of a mixt independent of atomic theories. (shrink)
During the 19th century atomism was a controversial issue in chemistry. It is an oversimplification to dismiss the critics' arguments as all falling under the general positivist view that what can't be seen can't be. The more interesting lines of argument either questioned whether any coherent notion of an atom had ever been formulated or questioned whether atoms were ever really given any explanatory role. At what point, and for what reasons, did atomistic hypotheses begin to explain anything in (...)chemistry? It is argued that 19th-century atomic accounts of constant proportions and isomerism had little to offer, whereas a non-atomic explanation of chemical combination was developed. Not until the turn of the century did atomism begin to do serious explanatory work in chemistry. (shrink)
This essay addresses issues concerningexplanation by exploring how explanatorystructures function within contemporarychemistry. Three examples are discussed:explanations of the behavior of gases using theideal gas law, explanations of trends inchemical properties using the periodic table,and explanations of molecular geometry usingdiagrammatic orbital schemes. In each case,the general explanatory structure, rather thanparticular explanations, occupies center stagein the analysis. It is argued that thisquasi-empirical investigation may be morefruitful than previous analyses that attempt toisolate the essential features of individualexplanations. There are two reasons for thisconclusion, (...) each discussed in some detail. First, the traditional analyses rely on highlyprecarious reasoning. Second, empiricallygrounded investigations provide a more naturalconnection to the core aim of analyses ofexplanation, namely to provide a rationale forthe widely expressed preference for explanatorytheories in science. (shrink)
The paper is focused on some aspects of experimental realism of Ian Hacking, and especially on his manipulability criterion of existence. The problem is here related to chemical molecules, the objects of interest in chemical research. The authors consider whether and to what extent this criterion has been applied in experimental practice of chemistry. They argue that experimentation on is a fundamental criterion of existence of entities in chemistry rather than experimentation with. Some examples regarding studies of structures (...) of complex compounds, taken from organic chemistry, are presented to support the authors' considerations. Chemists' laboratory practice depends strongly on the way that representations of entities on (or with) the experiments are used. The authors show that this point has not been given sufficient attention by the new experimentalists. (shrink)
This essay analyzes the historical and philosophical context that led to the basic concepts of stereochemistry proposed by Van’t Hoff and Le Bel. Although it is now well established that the key idea of tetrahedral carbon, and in general a geometric view of matter, was pioneered by other chemists, Van’t Hoff and Le Bel used this idea to solve the puzzle of optical activity, thereby establishing a direct linkage between structure and physical properties. It is also interesting to note that (...) their proposals came without experimental verification and they were largely based on experiments conducted by others. Philosophical arguments can, however, be invoked to satisfactorily validate this deductive reasoning. (shrink)