Annals of Science 56 (1):81-94 (1999)

The strong opposition of nineteenth-century French chemists to atomism is usually described as a national attitude due to the overarching influence of positivism in France. The explanation sounds plausible, at first glance. However, the idea that a philosophy of science acted as an obstacle to the advancement of science needs further investigation. What is meant exactly by a philosophical influence on a scientific community? In analysing the alleged influence of positivism on the chemists' community it is argued that the common connection established between philosophical views and scientific attitudes leads to a misunderstanding of both philosophy and scientific activity. This paper first stresses the misreading of Auguste Comte's works; then the misunderstanding of scientific debates about atomism in chemistry. Finally it suggests an alternative view: that the atomic debates generated a variety of positivisms
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DOI 10.1080/000337999296544
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Mendeleev’s Periodic Law and the 19th Century Debates on Atomism.Pieter Thyssen - forthcoming - In Martin Eisvogel & Klaus Ruthenberg (eds.), Wald, Positivism and Chemistry. Würzburg, Germany:
The Chemists' Style of Thinking.Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent - 2009 - Berichte Zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte 32 (4):365-378.

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