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Alan Chalmers: The scientist’s atom and the philosopher’s stone: how science succeeded and philosophy failed to gain knowledge of atoms



Found Chem (2011) 13:79­83 DOI 10.1007/s10698-010-9102-9 BOOK REVIEW Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Volume 279, Springer, Dordrecht, 2009, 287 plus xi pages, $139.00, (Kindle edition, $99.69), ISBN 978-90-481-2361-2 Joseph E. Earley Sr. Published online: 28 December 2010 Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010 Alan Chalmers has strong views about what does and does not deserve to be considered ``science.''1 In this book he examines a number of historical developments that are frequently cited in accounts of the origin of the outlook he calls ``atomism''­ the doctrine that all materials are composed of microscopic components that account for the properties of those materials. In most such episodes the author finds reason to challenge conventional understandings--such as those generally used in introductory chemistry courses--and to take issue with specialized historians and philosophers. Chalmers holds that ``testing the adequacy of scientific claims requires active experimental intervention.'' (10)2 Only theories that suggest novel experiments (and can be confirmed by results of those tests) count as science, in his view. Accounts that are merely ``accommodations'' to otherwise known facts do not qualify. (113) A ``key focus'' of the present work is ``understanding how preconditions necessary to make possible an atomic theory



Foundations of ChemistrySpringer Journals

Published: Apr 1, 2011

DOI: 10.1007/s10698-010-9102-9

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