Diagrams and explanation in organic chemistry


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.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 93,745

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

  • Only published works are available at libraries.

Similar books and articles

Structural formulas and explanation in organic chemistry.W. M. Goodwin - 2008 - Foundations of Chemistry 10 (2):117-127.
How do Structural Formulas Embody the Theory of Organic Chemistry?William Goodwin - 2010 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (3):621-633.
Quantum Chemistry and Organic Theory.William Goodwin - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (5):1159-1169.
Scientific understanding and synthetic design.William Goodwin - 2009 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (2):271-301.
Implementation and innovation in total synthesis.William Goodwin - 2008 - Foundations of Chemistry 10 (3):177-186.
Visual representations in science.William Goodwin - 2009 - Philosophy of Science 76 (3):372-390.
Experiments and Theory in the Preparative Sciences.William Goodwin - 2012 - Philosophy of Science 79 (4):429-447.


Added to PP

79 (#72,876)

6 months
7 (#1,397,300)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

William Goodwin
University of South Florida

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references