Foundations of Chemistry

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 275-284

First online:

A critique of Weisberg’s view on the periodic table and some speculations on the nature of classifications

  • Eric R. ScerriAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry and Biochemistry, U.C.L.A. Email author 

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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’.


Mendeleev Periodic table Theory Classification Explanation Models Shapere