Chemistry and physics are two sciences that are hard to connect. Yet there is significant overlap in their aims, methods, and theoretical approaches. In this book, the reduction of chemistry to physics is defended from the viewpoint of a naturalised Nagelian reduction, which is based on a close reading of Nagel's original text. This naturalised notion of reduction is capable of characterising the inter-theory relationships between theories of chemistry and theories of physics. The reconsideration of reduction also leads to a (...) new characterisation of chemical theories. This book is primarily aimed at philosophers of chemistry and chemists with an interest in philosophy, but is also of interest to the general philosopher of science. (shrink)
This monograph deals with the interrelationship between chemistry and physics, and especially the role played by quantum chemistry as a theory in between these two disciplines. The author uses structuralist approach to explore the overlap between the two sciences, looking at their theoretical and ontological borrowings as well as their continuity. -/- The starting point of this book is that there is at least a form of unity between chemistry and physics, where the reduction relation is conceived as a special (...) case of this unity. However, matters are never concluded so simply within philosophy of chemistry, as significant problems exist around a number of core chemical ideas. Specifically, one cannot take the obvious success of quantum theories as outright support for a reductive relationship. Instead, in the context of a suitably adapted Nagelian framework for reduction, modern chemistry's relationship to physics is constitutive. The results provided by quantum chemistry, in particular, have significant consequences for chemical ontology. This book is ideal for students, scholars and academics from the field of Philosophy of Science, and particularly for those with an interest in Philosophy of Chemistry and Physics. (shrink)
This paper analyses Richard Bader’s ‘operational’ view of quantum mechanics and the role it plays in the the explanation of chemistry. I argue that QTAIM can partially be reconstructed as an ‘austere’ form of quantum mechanics, which is in turn committed to an eliminative concept of reduction that stems from Kemeny and Oppenheim. As a reductive theory in this sense, the theory fails. I conclude that QTAIM has both a regulatory and constructive function in the theories of chemistry.
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)
This note is intended to address one particular issue in the relative status of Quantum Chemistry in comparison to both Chemistry and Physics. It has been suggested, in the context of the question of the reduction relations between Chemistry and Physics that Quantum Chemistry as a research programme is incapable of furnishing useful guidance to practising chemists. If true, this claim will let us qualify Quantum Chemistry as a degenerating research programme, which, due to its complexity has difficulty to be (...) applied to Chemistry. This claim is shown to be false. The replacement claim I wish to make is that Quantum Chemistry is perfectly capable of furnishing such guidance, but renders the ontological status of many models favored by chemists problematic. Quantum Chemistry, however, validates these models in an instrumental fashion. I will argue that Quantum Chemistry is a progressive research programme. (shrink)
In this paper I briefly reply to Shant Shahbazian’s comments on my paper “Austere quantum mechanics as a reductive basis for chemistry” and argue that quantum theory of atoms in molecules can be characterised as a research programme in the theories of chemistry. I also explore the areas in which Shahbazian and me agree and disagree.
Henry Eyring's absolute rate theory explains the size of chemical reaction rate constants in terms of thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, and quantum chemistry. In addition it uses a number of unique concepts such as the 'transition state'. A key feature of the theory is that the explanation it provides relies on the comparison of reaction rate constant expressions derived from these individual theories. In this paper, the example is used to develop a naturalized notion of reduction and the unity of science. (...) This characterization provides the necessary clues to the sort of inter-theoretic linkages that are present in the theory of reaction rates. The overall theory is then further characterized as a theory network, establishing connections between non-reductive notions of inter-theory connections. This characterization also sheds new light on the unity of science. (shrink)