Mathematics, Representation and Molecular Structure

  • Robin Findlay Hendry
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science book series (BSPS, volume 222)


The application of quantum-theoretic models to the explanation of chemical structure and bonding is one of the great twentieth-century stories of interaction among disciplines. Some philosophers have found in this interaction both evidential support and historical explanation. The evidential support is for the philosophical doctrine of physicalism, the thesis that everything is, or depends in some way on, the physical. The historical explanation concerns the fall of emergentism, and in particular its doctrines concerning the independence of chemical law. With the emergence of quantum chemistry, the physicalists argue, chemical structure and bonding was explained in terms of physical laws, and the hitherto popular and plausible philosophical view that chemical laws were in some sense sui generis was rendered less popular and plausible, at least among scientifically oriented philosophers.


Quantum Chemistry Semantic View Downward Causation Empirical Adequacy Epistemic Virtue 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robin Findlay Hendry
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of DurhamUK

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