The Ontological Autonomy of the Chemical World: Facing the Criticisms

  • Olimpia Lombardi
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science book series (BSPS, volume 306)


The ontological autonomy of the chemical world has been explicitly defended from a Kantian-rooted ontological pluralism, according to which the ontological priority of the physical world turns out to be a mere metaphysical prejudice. From the pluralist viewpoint, concepts like bonding, molecular shape and orbital refer to entities belonging to the chemical ontology, which do not owe their existence to a more fundamental level of reality, but to the fact that they are described by theories with immense predictive and creative power. Since its first presentation in 2005, this pluralist position received both support and criticisms. More than eight years after that first work, it is time to take into account those criticisms and to try to answer them. This is the main purpose of the present article.


Ontological reduction Ontological autonomy Epistemic reduction Intertheory links Pragmatic success Non-reductive unity of science 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CONICET – Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y NaturalesUniversidad de Buenos AiresBuenos AiresArgentina

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