James Ladyman
University of Bristol
Geoffrey Blumenthal
University of Bristol
Vanessa Seifert
University of Bristol
How do we refer to chemical substances, and in particular to chemical elements? This question relates to many philosophical questions, including whether or not theories are incommensurable, the extent to which past theories are later discarded, and issues about scientific realism. This chapter considers the first explicit reference to types of colorless air in late-eighteenth-century chemical practice. Reference to a gas by one chemist was generally intended to give others epistemological, methodological, and practical access to the gas. This chapter proposes a causal-descriptive theory of reference for chemical substances. Implications for debates about incommensurability and realism are also briefly noted.
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Naming and Necessity.Saul Kripke - 1980 - Harvard University Press.
Studies in the Way of Words.H. P. Grice - 1989 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Reference and Definite Descriptions.Keith S. Donnellan - 1966 - Philosophical Review 75 (3):281-304.

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