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Theory Choice in the History of Chemical Practices

  • Book
  • © 2016


  • Outlines key theoretical developments in chemistry, examined in the context of their historical background
  • Highlights competing theories from medieval alchemy to the era of computer modelled chemistry
  • Reveals the strong relationship between scientific practice and theory choice
  • Includes supplementary material:

Part of the book series: SpringerBriefs in Molecular Science (BRIEFSMOLECULAR)

Part of the book sub series: History of Chemistry (BRIESFHISTCHEM)

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Table of contents (6 chapters)


About this book

This collection of essays examines the question of theory from the perspective of the history of chemistry. Through the lens of a number of different periods, the authors provide a historical analysis of the question of theory in the history of chemical practice. The consensus picture that emerges is that the history of science tells us a much more complex story about theory choice. A glimpse at scientific practice at the time shows that different, competing as well as non-competing, theories were used in the context of the scientific practice at the various times and sometimes played a pivotal pedagogical role in training the next generation of chemists. This brief brings together a history of chemical practice, and in so doing reveals that theory choice is conceptually more problematic than was originally conceived. This volume was produced as part of the Ad HOC chemistry research group hosted by University College London and University of Cambridge.


“The essays are engaging and stimulating, but are meant for advanced readers. Each essay provides extensive footnotes and references … . Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students; researchers/faculty; professionals.” (H. Goldwhite, Choice, Vol. 54 (4), December, 2016)

Editors and Affiliations

  • University College London, Dept. of Science and Technology Studies, London, United Kingdom

    Emma Tobin

  • Department of Science and, University College London, London, United Kingdom

    Chiara Ambrosio

About the editors

Dr. Emma Tobin and Dr. Chiara Ambrosio are lecturers in Philosophy of Science at University College London.

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