Foundations of Chemistry

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 41–54 | Cite as

Microstructuralism and macromolecules: the case of moonlighting proteins

  • Emma TobinEmail author


Microstructuralism in the philosophy of chemistry is the thesis that chemical kinds can be individuated in terms of their microstructural properties (Hendry in Philos Sci 73:864–875, 2006). Elements provide paradigmatic examples, since the atomic number should suffice to individuate the kind. In theory, Microstructuralism should also characterise higher-level chemical kinds such as molecules, compounds, and macromolecules based on their constituent atomic properties. In this paper, several microstructural theses are distinguished. An analysis of macromolecules such as moonlighting proteins suggests that all the forms of microstructuralism cannot accommodate them.


Natural Kinds Microstructuralism Macromolecules Polymer Protein Essentialism Moonlighting Protein 



I am grateful to Alexander Bird, Richard Boyd, John Dupré and Jessica Wilson for advise and comments on earlier versions of this paper. I also wish to acknowledge the AHRC for financially supporting a period of postdoctoral research, as a core researcher on the metaphysics of science project, during which this paper was written.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BristolBristolUK

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