A critique of Weisberg’s view on the periodic table and some speculations on the nature of classifications
First Online: 26 July 2012 DOI:
Cite this article as: Scerri, E.R. Found Chem (2012) 14: 275. doi:10.1007/s10698-012-9164-y Abstract
This article carefully analyzes a recent paper by Weisberg in which it is claimed that when Mendeleev discovered the periodic table he was not working as a modeler but instead as a theorist. I argue that Weisberg is mistaken in several respects and that the periodic table should be regarded as a classification, not as a theory. In the second part of the article an attempt is made to elevate the status of classifications by suggesting that they provide a form of ‘side-ways explanation’.
Keywords Mendeleev Periodic table Theory Classification Explanation Models Shapere
This article is being reprinted from a previously published version with a different title. It originally appeared as “Who is a Theorist?”, in the journal
Eureka sobre Enseñanza y Divulgación de las Ciencias, 8(3), 231–239, 2011. I am grateful to the editor of the journal, José María Oliva Martinez, for granting me permission to reprint it here. The first oral version of the paper was given at the Oxford Conference which forms the basis of this special issue. References
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