Foundations of Chemistry

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 311–326 | Cite as

Austere quantum mechanics as a reductive basis for chemistry



This paper analyses Richard Bader’s ‘operational’ view of quantum mechanics and the role it plays in the the explanation of chemistry. I argue that QTAIM can partially be reconstructed as an ‘austere’ form of quantum mechanics, which is in turn committed to an eliminative concept of reduction that stems from Kemeny and Oppenheim. As a reductive theory in this sense, the theory fails. I conclude that QTAIM has both a regulatory and constructive function in the theories of chemistry.


Operational quantum mechanics Operationalism Atoms in molecules Electron density Reduction Explanation 



I would like to thank Richard Bader for a fruitful discussion about some of the topics discussed in this paper. The present paper contains my considered response to some of the topics we discussed during his visit to Auckland in September 2010. I would like to thank two referees of an earlier draft of this paper for constructive comments.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyThe University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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