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Science & Education

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 243–266 | Cite as

How Important are the Laws of Definite and Multiple Proportions in Chemistry and Teaching Chemistry? – A History and Philosophy of Science Perspective

  • Mansoor Niaz
Article

Abstract

The main objectives of this study are:(1) to elaborate a framework based on a rationalreconstruction of developments that led to theformulation of the laws of definite and multipleproportions; (2) to ascertain students' views of the two laws; (3) to formulate criteria based on theframework for evaluating chemistry textbooks'treatment of the two laws; and (4) to provide arationale for chemistry teachers to respond to the question: Can we teach chemistry without the laws of definite and multiple proportions? Results obtained show that most of the textbooks present the laws of definite and multiple proportions within aninductivist perspective, characterized by thefollowing sequence: experimental findings showed that chemical elements combined in fixed/multipleproportions, followed by the formulation of the laws of definite and multiple proportions, and finally Dalton's atomic theory was postulated to explain the laws. Students were found to be reluctant to question the laws that they learnt as the building blocks of chemistry. It is concluded that by emphasizing the laws of definite and multiple proportions, textbooks inevitably endorse the dichotomy between theories and laws, which is questioned by philosophers of science (Lakatos 1970; Giere 1995a, b). An alternativeapproach is presented which shows that we can teach chemistry without the laws of definite and multiple proportions.

Keywords

Building Block Experimental Finding Chemical Element Science Perspective Teaching Chemistry 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mansoor Niaz
    • 1
  1. 1.Chemistry DepartmentUniversidad de OrienteCumaná, Estado SucreVenezuela;

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