Foundations of Chemistry

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 137–151

Lavoisier’s "Reflections on phlogiston" I: against phlogiston theory


DOI: 10.1007/s10698-015-9220-5

Cite this article as:
Best, N.W. Found Chem (2015) 17: 137. doi:10.1007/s10698-015-9220-5


This seminal paper, which marks a turning point of the chemical revolution, is presented for the first time in a complete English translation. In this first half Lavoisier undermines phlogiston chemistry by arguing that his French contemporaries (particularly P.-J. Macquer and Baumé) had replaced Stahl’s original theory with radically different systems that conceptualised the phlogiston principle in completely incompatible ways. He refutes their claims by showing that these later models were riddled with inconsistencies as to phlogiston’s weight, its ability to penetrate glass and its role as a source of colour and odour in chemical compounds.


Chemical revolution Phlogiston Combustion 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History and Philosophy of ScienceIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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