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Elements, compounds and other chemical kinds.

Hendry, R. F. (2006) 'Elements, compounds and other chemical kinds.', Philosophy of science., 73 (5). pp. 864-875.

Abstract

In this paper I assess the problems and prospects of a microstructural approach to chemical substances. Kripke and Putnam famously claimed that (a) to be gold is to have atomic number 79, and (b) to be water is to be H2O. I relate (a) to the concept of element in the history of chemistry, arguing that the reference of element names is determined by atomic number. Compounds are more difficult: water is so complex and heterogeneous at the molecular level that ‘water is H2O’ seems false. I sketch a response to this problem.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Chemical substances, Natural kinds, Essentialism.
Full text:PDF - Published Version (70Kb)
Status:Peer-reviewed
Publisher Web site:http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/518745
Publisher statement:© 2006 by the Philosophy of Science Association
Record Created:28 Jul 2008
Last Modified:23 Aug 2011 16:24

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