Hendry, R. F. (2005) 'Lavoisier and Mendeleev on the elements.', Foundations of chemistry., 7 (1). pp. 31-48.
Lavoisier defined an element as a chemical substance that cannot be decomposed using current analytical methods. Mendeleev saw an element as a substance composed of atoms of the same atomic weight. These `definitions' do quite different things: Lavoisier's distinguishes the elements from the compounds,so that the elements may form the basis of a compositional nomenclature; Mendeleev's offers a criterion of sameness and difference for elemental substances, while Lavoisier's does not. In this paper I explore the historical and theoretical background to each proposal. Lavoisier's and Mendeleev's explicit conceptions of elementhood differed from each other, and from the official IUPAC definitionof `element' of the 1920s. However, Lavoisier and Mendeleev both subscribed to – and employed – a deeper notion of a chemical element as the component of compound substances that (i) can survive chemical change, and (ii) explains the chemical behaviour of its compounds.
|Keywords:||Lavoisier, Mendeleev, Elements, Natural kinds, Theories of reference.|
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|Publisher Web site:||http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/B:FOCH.0000042886.65679.4e|
|Record Created:||03 Apr 2007|
|Last Modified:||08 Apr 2009 16:29|
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