[SydPhil] Robin Findlay Hendry, "The Metaphysics of Chemistry" @ UOW

Patrick McGivern patrickm at uow.edu.au
Thu Nov 22 13:12:42 AEDT 2012

Robin Findlay Hendry (Durham) will be presenting a paper at the University of Wollongong's Philosophy Research Seminar series on December 6th. All are welcome to attend.

Title: The Metaphysics of Chemistry

When & Where: Thursday, December 6th, 3:30pm in room 19.1003 at the University of Wollongong.

Abstract: Microstructuralism is the thesis that the molecular structure of a chemical substance is what makes it what it is. I defend microstructuralism on the grounds that structure is central to modern chemistry: it provides the only systematic basis for nomenclature, classification, and explanation. None of this is to deny that there are other ways to think about substances: it is just that none of these is as good for understanding what substances are made of, and what they do.

>From microstructuralism about substances it is a few small steps to the identification of chemical substances with (properties of) molecular populations. Chemical substances are ways for molecules to be. But if chemical substances are (ways for) populations of molecules to be, does this make chemistry reducible to physics? Clearly not, if reducibility requires the derivability of chemical facts and principles from physical facts and principles. Reducibility is questionable in less obvious and more interesting ways: I argue that the claim that substances (and their structures) are emergent is at least as well supported by the scientific evidence as reductionist alternatives.

Dr. Patrick McGivern
Lecturer in Philosophy
University of Wollongong
p: +61 2 4221 5676
e: patrickm at uow.edu.au

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