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)
In this article I reply to criticism of my published work by N. Psarros (Journal for the General Philosophy of Science 28: 297–305,1997). I show that I had already answered the first criticism in my published work and not overlooked his supposed refutation. However I offer a plausible argument which he could have used to strengthen his claim. Psarros cites my work on Hopkins in his opening paragraph, but then makes no further reference to it in the text. I indicated (...) to Psarros verbally at Ilkley 1994 (and reiterate the message here) that Hopkins' work on Vitamins is the exemplar of a Popperian historical episode and must require addressing by the opponents of critical rationalism. (shrink)
Eric Scerri has argued that chemists using ab initio calculations pursue a partial reduction of chemistry to physics, while accepting that full reduction (through axiomatization) is impractical. He characterizes this view as Popperian and naturalistic. However, Popper's position on reduction is not naturalistic, as he rejected axiomatization for different reasons.
Eric Scerri has proposed an account of how reduction might be understood in chemistry. He claims to build on a general aspect of Popper's views which survives his otherwise heavy criticism, namely adherence to actual scientific practice. This is contrasted with Nagel's conception, which Scerri takes to be the philosopher's standard notion. I argue that his proposal, interesting though it is, is not so foreign to ideas in the tradition within which Nagel wrote as Scerri would have us believe. Moreover, (...) actual scientific practice can be commandeered in support of a holistic conception which Popper contrasted with what he saw as the admirable strivings towards reduction in science. (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)