Is chemistry a branch of physics?
- 227 Downloads
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.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Bunge, M. :Philosophy of Physics. Dordrecht: ReidelGoogle Scholar
- Bunge, M. : ‘Levels and reduction’,American Journal of Physiology 233 R 75-R 82.Google Scholar
- Causey, R. L. :Unity of Science. Dordrecht and Boston: Reidel.Google Scholar
- García-Sucre, M., and M. Bunge (1981), “The geometry of a quantal system”,International Journal of Quantum Chemistry 19 83–93.Google Scholar
- Hilbert, D. : ‘Axiomatisches Denken’,Mathematische Annalen 78 405–415.Google Scholar
- Ladik, J. J., : ‘Quantum theory of DNA. Summary of results and study program’,Advances in Quantum Chemistry 7 397–445.Google Scholar
- Levine, R. D. :Quantum Mechanics of Molecular Rate Processes. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
- Levine, R. D. and R. B. Bernstein Molecular Reaction Dynamics. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
- Miller, W. H.,et al., Eds. :Modern Theoretical Chemistry, Vols. 1 and 2:Dynamics of Molecular Collisions. New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
- Nagel, E. :The Structure of Science. New York, Brace & World.Google Scholar
- National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council :Theoretical Chemistry: A Current Review. Washington, D. C.Google Scholar
- Polanyi, J. C. and J. L. Schreiber : “The dynamics of bimolecular collisions’, in H. Eyring, J. Henderson, and W. Jost, Eds.,Physical Chemistry: An Advanced Treatise, Vol. VIA, pp. 383–487. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Wang, H. : ‘Process and existence in mathematics’, in Y. Bar-Hillelet al., Eds.,Essays in the Foundations of Mathematics, pp. 328–351. Jerusalem: Magnes Press.Google Scholar
- Woolley. R. G. : ‘Must a molecule have a shape?’,Journal of the American Chemical Society, 100 1073–1078.Google Scholar
- 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).Google Scholar