The purloined referent: Lavoisier and the disappearance of phlogiston

In this paper, I challenge the long-established view that the term phlogiston fails to refer. After a close examination of the reference of phlogiston during Lavoisier’s Chemical Revolution, I show that it referred throughout to a natural substance, fire matter. I state that Lavoisier eliminated the term but not its referent, which he renamed caloric, and I claim that it is in the historical and cultural context of the Chemical Revolution that the Lavoisier’s intentions can be understood.
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