Ideas of Weisberg/Needham/Hendry, by Theme

[, fl. 2011, ]

green numbers give full details    |    back to list of philosophers    |     unexpand these ideas    |    
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / i. Explanations by mechanism
Using mechanisms as explanatory schemes began in chemistry
     Full Idea: The production of mechanisms as explanatory schemes finds its original home in chemistry.
     From: Weisberg/Needham/Hendry (Philosophy of Chemistry [2011], 5.1)
     A reaction: This is as opposed to mechanisms in biology or neuroscience, which come later.
Thick mechanisms map whole reactions, and thin mechanism chart the steps
     Full Idea: In chemistry the 'thick' notion of a mechanism traces out positions of electrons and atomic cores, and correlates them with energies, showing the whole reaction. 'Thin' mechanisms focus on a discrete set of intermediate steps.
     From: Weisberg/Needham/Hendry (Philosophy of Chemistry [2011], 5.1)
26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 6. Early Matter Theories / f. Ancient elements
Lavoisier's elements included four types of earth
     Full Idea: Four types of earth found a place on Lavoisier's list of elements.
     From: Weisberg/Needham/Hendry (Philosophy of Chemistry [2011], 1.2)
     A reaction: A nice intermediate point between the ancient Greek and the modern view of earth.
27. Natural Reality / F. Chemistry / 1. Chemistry
'H2O' just gives the element proportions, not the microstructure
     Full Idea: 'H2O' is not a description of any microstructure. It is a compositional formula, describing the combining proportions of hydrogen and oxygen to make water.
     From: Weisberg/Needham/Hendry (Philosophy of Chemistry [2011], 4.5)
Over 100,000,000 compounds have been discovered or synthesised
     Full Idea: There are well over 100,000,000 chemical compounds that have been discovered or synthesised, all of which have been formally characterised.
     From: Weisberg/Needham/Hendry (Philosophy of Chemistry [2011], 4.3)
Water molecules dissociate, and form large polymers, explaining its properties
     Full Idea: Water's structure cannot simply be described as a collection of individual molecules. There is a continual dissociation of H2O molecules into hydrogen and hydroxide ions; they former larger polymeric species, explaining conductivity, melting and boiling.
     From: Weisberg/Needham/Hendry (Philosophy of Chemistry [2011], 4.5)
     A reaction: [compressed] If philosophers try to state the 'essence of water', they had better not be too glib about it.
It is unlikely that chemistry will ever be reduced to physics
     Full Idea: Most philosophers believe chemistry has not been reduced to physics nor is it likely to be.
     From: Weisberg/Needham/Hendry (Philosophy of Chemistry [2011], 6)
     A reaction: [Le Poidevin 2007 argues the opposite] That chemical features are actually metaphysically 'emergent' is a rare view, defended by Hendry. The general view is that the concepts are too different, and approximations render it hopeless.
Quantum theory won't tell us which structure a set of atoms will form
     Full Idea: Quantum mechanics cannot tell us why a given collection of atoms will adopt one molecular structure (and set of chemical properties) or the other.
     From: Weisberg/Needham/Hendry (Philosophy of Chemistry [2011], 6.1)
     A reaction: Presumably it the 'chance' process of how the atoms are thrown together.
For temperature to be mean kinetic energy, a state of equilibrium is also required
     Full Idea: Having a particular average kinetic energy is only a necessary condition for having a given temperature, not a sufficient one, because only gases at equilibrium have a well-defined temperature.
     From: Weisberg/Needham/Hendry (Philosophy of Chemistry [2011], 6.2)
     A reaction: If you try to pin it all down more precisely, the definition turns out to be circular.
27. Natural Reality / F. Chemistry / 2. Modern Elements
Isotopes (such as those of hydrogen) can vary in their rates of chemical reaction
     Full Idea: There are chemically salient differences among the isotopes, best illustrated by the three isotopes of hydrogen: protium, deuterium and tritium, which show different rates of reaction, making heavy water poisonous where ordinary water is not.
     From: Weisberg/Needham/Hendry (Philosophy of Chemistry [2011], 1.4)
     A reaction: [They cite Paul Needham 2008] The point is that the isotopes are the natural kinds, rather than the traditional elements. The view is unorthodox, but clearly makes a good point.
27. Natural Reality / F. Chemistry / 3. Periodic Table
Mendeleev systematised the elements, and also gave an account of their nature
     Full Idea: In addition to providing the systematization of the elements used in modern chemistry, Mendeleev also gave an account of the nature of the elements which informs contemporary philosophical understanding.
     From: Weisberg/Needham/Hendry (Philosophy of Chemistry [2011], 1.3)