Eric Scerri

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Eric Scerri
Eric Scerri.tif
Fields Chemistry; logic, history and philosophy of science, chemistry and the periodic table; chemical education
Institutions University of California, Los Angeles
Alma mater Westfield College, (University of London); University of Cambridge; University of Southampton; King's College London
Influences Karl Popper; Heinz Post

Eric R. Scerri is a chemist, writer and philosopher of science, of Maltese origin.[1] He is a lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles; and the founder and editor-in-chief of Foundations of Chemistry, an international peer reviewed journal covering the history and philosophy of chemistry, and chemical education.[2][3]

He is a world authority on the history and philosophy of the periodic table and is the author and editor of several books in this and related fields.[4] Dr. Scerri was a participant in the 2014 PBS documentary film, The Mystery of Matter.

Dr Scerri received his BSc from Westfield College (University of London), his Certificate in Postgraduate Study from the University of Cambridge, his MPhil from the University of Southampton, and his PhD from King's College London.[3]

Scerri's research has mainly been in the history and philosophy of chemistry, in particular on the question of the extent to which chemistry reduces to quantum mechanics. He has specialized in the study of the periodic table of the elements, including its historical origins and its philosophical significance. More recent writings have included critiques of claims for the emergence of chemistry and the existence of downward causation.

In addition to historical and philosophical work Scerri has published numerous articles in the chemical education literature, including accounts of the electronic structures of transition metals and the occurrence of anomalous electronic configurations.

In 2013 Scerri published a book entitled A Tale of Seven Elements in which he examined such themes as priority debates while recounting the story of the discovery of the remaining seven elements within what he calls the infra-uranium elements. Most recently he has proposed a new evolutionary approach to the philosophy of science that is based on seven case studies on little known scientists such as John Nicholson, Anton Van den Broek and Edmund Stoner. Scerri has argued that these lesser known figures are just as significant as the heroic personalities in that they constitute the missing gaps in a gradual evolutionary and organic growth in the body of scientific knowledge. Although Scerri rejects the occurrence of Kuhn-like scientific revolutions he very much supports Kuhn's notion that scientific progress is non-teleological and that there is no approach towards an external truth.

Publications (recent and notable)[edit]


  • Scerri E 2016, A Tale of Seven Scientists, and a New Philosophy of Science, Oxford University Press, New York, ISBN 978-0190232993
  • —— & Fisher G, 2016, Essays in the Philosophy of Chemistry Oxford University Press, New York, ISBN 9780190494599
  • —— & McIntyre L, 2015, Philosophy of Chemistry: Growth of a New Discipline, Springer, Dordrecht, Berlin, ISBN 978-94-017-9364-3 (ebook) ISBN 978-94-017-9363-6 (hardcover) doi:10.1007/978-94-017-9364- 3 ISSN 0068-0346 (series)
  • —— 2013, A tale of seven elements, Oxford University Press, Oxford, ISBN 9780195391312
  • —— 2013 (ed.), 30-second elements: The 50 most significant elements, each explained in half a minute, Metro Books, New York, ISBN 9781435145214
  • —— 2011, The periodic table: A very short introduction, Oxford University Press, Oxford, ISBN 9780199582495
  • —— 2009, Selected papers on the periodic table, Imperial College Press, London, ISBN 9781848164253
  • —— 2008, Collected papers on philosophy of chemistry, Imperial College Press, London, ISBN 9781848161375
  • —— 2007, The periodic table: Its story and its significance, Oxford University Press, New York, ISBN 9780195305739
  • —— & Baird D, McIntyre L, 2006, Philosophy of Chemistry: Synthesis of a New Discipline, Springer, Dordrecht, ISBN 1402032560



  1. ^ Baykoucheva S 2010, 'Eric Scerri: A philosopher’s view on the periodic table of the elements and its significance', Chemical Information Bulletin, vol. 62, no. 1, Spring, pp. 27–32
  2. ^ Rocke A 2012, 'A place at the periodic table', The Times Higher Education Supplement, 15 August
  3. ^ a b UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry 2013, 'Scerri, Eric R.', University of California. For current biographical information see the home page of Eric Scerri
  4. ^ Sella A 2013, 'An elementary history lesson', New Scientist, 13 August

External links[edit]