Is chemistry a branch of physics?

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Summary

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.

My thanks to Professors Carlos F. Bunge (Instituto de Física, UNAM, México D.F.) and Máximo García-Sucre (Centro de Física, IVIC, Caracas) for enlightening discussions, and to Professor K. J. Laidler (Department of Chemistry, University of Ottawa) for some useful references.