In this paper we will address the problem of the existence of orbitals by analyzing the relationship between molecular chemistry and quantum mechanics. In particular, we will consider the concept of orbital in the light of the arguments that deny its referring character. On this basis, we will conclude that the claim that orbitals do not exist relies on a metaphysical reductionism which, if consistently sustained, would lead to consequences clashing with the effective practice of science in its different branches.
KeywordsOrbital Wavefunction Molecular chemistry Quantum mechanics
We are especially grateful to Eric Scerri for fruitful discussions. We also want to thank W. H. Eugen Schwarz and the participants of the ISPC Symposium 2008 for their interesting comments. This paper was supported by grants of CONICET, ANPCyT, UBA, UCEL and SADAF, Argentina.
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