Is chemistry a branch of physics?
- Mario Bunge
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Opinion is divided as to whether chemistry is reducible to physics. The problem can be given a satisfactory solution provided three conditions are met: that a science not be identified with its theories; that several notions of theory dependence be distinguished; and that quantum chemistry, rather than classical chemistry, be compared with physics. This paper proposes to perform all three tasks. It does so by analyzing the methodological concepts concerned as well as by examining the way a chemical rate constant is derivable with the help of the quantum atomic theory. The conclusion is that chemistry, and in particular quantum chemistry, is not a part of physics although it is certainly based on the latter.
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- Note added in proof. A thesis of this paper, namely that quantum chemistry does not follow from quantum physics without further ado, but only with the help of subsidiary hypotheses, has also been defended by Monique Lévy, who calls the procedure ‘reduction by synthesis’, in her paper “Relations entre chimie et physique”,Epistemologia II:337–370 (1979). And the irreducibility of chemistry to physics has been defended, though not proved, by D. W. Theobald, “Some considerations on the philosophy of chemistry”,Chem. Soc. Revs. (London) 5:203–213 (1976).
- Is chemistry a branch of physics?
Zeitschrift für allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie
Volume 13, Issue 2 , pp 209-223
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- Kluwer Academic Publishers
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- Mario Bunge (1)
- Author Affiliations
- 1. McGill University, 3479 Peel Street, H3A 1W7, Montreal, PQ, Canada