Talk:Philosophy of chemistry

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This page was voted on for deletion at Wikipedia:Votes for deletion/Philosophy of chemistry. The final result was Keep. --Deathphoenix 19:15, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I plan soon to add a ref. to this book, Philosophy of Chemistry : Synthesis of a New Discipline (Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science) (Hardcover) by Davis Baird (Editor), Eric Scerri (Editor), Lee McIntyre (Editor). Need to get ISBN, etc. --Christofurio 12:36, September 6, 2005 (UTC)

Poorly Written and Inaccurate[edit]

This article is poorly written. For example, "In the philosophy of chemistry, for example, we might ask, given quantum reality at the microcosmic level, and given the enormous distances between electrons and the atomic nucleus, how is it that we are unable to put our hands through walls, as physics might predict? Chemistry provides the answer, and so we then ask what it is that distinguishes chemistry from physics?" should not be in the introductory section. This paragraph and others have more to do with Biology or Physics and this promotes the idea that Philosophy of Chemistry is inseparable from these other disciplines, or that it is dependent on them in some way.

The phrase "for example" is used four times in this short article.

I'm an undergraduate student, but I'm also a double major in Chemistry and Philosophy. I might revise this if I get the time. 64.114.134.46 18:34, 19 June 2007 (UTC)


I will totally copy that as a Chemistry Ph.D., not an undergrad,

The following question honestly sounds rather silly: "In the philosophy of chemistry, for example, we might ask, given quantum reality at the microcosmic level, and given the enormous distances between electrons and the atomic nucleus, how is it that we are unable to put our hands through walls, as physics might predict?"

In fact, physics does NOT predict that we should be able to put our hands through walls. Although we have discovered that matter consists of tiny particles which, if at rest, would occupy a small percentage of the total space, this is a far cry from saying that these tiny particles should not (as the author imagined it) bump into each other. The answer to the question is much simpler than quantum mechanics. In two words: electromagnetic repulsion. Have you ever put two N's or two S's of magnets together? They repel, right? Well, atoms and molecules occupy space not by filling up a volume with stuff but by electromagnetic fields. So when you bump into something, essentially the spacial resistance you are feeling is electromagnetic repulsion at the atomic level. Of course, MO theory offers a more complex answer, but it is all electromagnetics, which, by the way, is the basis of quantum mechanics at the atomic and molecular level. No one who understands quantum mechanics would ever ask such a question. So physics, in no way whatsoever, predicts such a silly situation as hands being able to go through walls.

Also, what kind of a question is "Can chemistry, in fact, be reduced to physics as has been assumed by many, or are there inexplicable gaps?"? How do you define "Chemistry"? How do you define "Physics"? That's like asking, "Can we combine Comparative Literature with Linguistics?" Sure, the two fields have overlap, but they are separate to help people focus on a certain aspect of science. What sort of "inexplicable gap" are you imagining? There is no gap, they are just two specializations trying to answer different questions (or sometimes the same questions from different angles).

A better type of question that the philosophy of chemistry might ask is what is the relationship between chemical theories and reality. For example, all chemists learn about "electrophilic" and "nucleophilic," and these classifications help chemists to design and predict reaction outcomes, but do they actually represent reality? So many chemicals theories are not based on direct observations but rather models that fit the data well. These models enable us to improve technology, but what is their connection to reality? That is where chemistry and philosophy intersect, not (at least in my opinion) in silly questions that arise from a complete misunderstanding of complex scientific theories like quantum mechanics.

Oh, and you shouldn't write "quantum reality." Quantum mechanics is NOT "reality," it is a theory. It is a darn good theory, but it is not "reality." There is a difference, and I think every philosopher should know the difference. Quantum mechanics is a mathematical model that tries to model and understand reality, but the model is not reality itself. Science is always trying to correct and improve itself and get closer to reality, if that is possible.

Somebody please rewrite this Rockemet, Stanford (talk) 00:12, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

This article is truly dire. It is full of factoids. The knowledge of the author is extremely questionable and the author's point of view seems to be one that throws down many divisive assertions. I just don't have time to deconstruct the article in detail - the best thing to do would be to delete it. An article in this area deserves to be written by a top chemist who understands the subject, particularly bonding theory, deeply. As it stands it would actively stymy the intellectual development of a student reader. Call in the Daleks! An awful lot of valuable detail IS known about chemical bonding and this article is just plain ignorant about it. If you doubt, look at the work of RFW Bader and his group. — Preceding unsigned comment added by JontheDuke (talkcontribs) 13:42, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

I think you are misunderstanding a whole load of things. First, there is no "author", as in "singular" - one author. Over the years many editors have contributed to the article. Second, this is not an article about chemical bonding. It is about the philosophy of chemistry. The philosophy of chemistry is very diffuse. If you look at the journals such as "Hyle" and "Foundations of Chemistry", you will see a wide diversity of topics. Only some touch on chemical bonding. I do not understand your reference to Richard Bader. I knew him and corresponded with him. He died last year. His work was brilliant, but a lot of people disagree with him. In particular in, first, the argument about the nature of the covalent bond with Rudenberg and other that remains unsettled after decades, and, second, his strong support of the reduction of chemistry to physics, where many real philosophers and some chemists, such as Hoffmann, mentioned in the article, strongly disagree. We have to give all points of views, although not necessarily with the same weight. This article tries to do that and does it quite well, although there is always room for improvement. I also note that it has changed considerably and for the better, since 2008 and earlier when the comments above in this section were written. Just some thoughts from another Duke. --Bduke (Discussion) 19:47, 13 November 2013 (UTC)