We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Structure as abstraction.

Hendry, R.F. (2016) 'Structure as abstraction.', Philosophy of science., 83 (5). pp. 1070-1081.


In this article I argue that structure in chemistry is a creature of abstraction: attending selectively to structural similarities, we neglect differences. There are different ways to abstract, so abstraction is interest dependent. So is structure. First, there are two different and mutually irreducible notions of structure in chemistry: bond structure and geometrical structure. Second, structure is relative to scale (of energy, time, and length): the same substance has different structures at different scales, and relationships of structural sameness and difference vary across the scales. However, these facts have no tendency to undermine structure’s claim to reality, or its metaphysical seriousness.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:© 2016 by the Philosophy of Science Association.
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:07 March 2017
Date of first online publication:01 December 2016
Date first made open access:01 December 2017

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar