Implementation and innovation in total synthesis

Foundations of Chemistry 10 (3):177-186 (2008)
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This article investigates how understanding the theory of organic chemistry facilitates the total synthesis of organic compounds. After locating the philosophical significance of this question within the methodology or epistemology of applied science, I summarize the results of previous work on this issue—roughly that theoretical organic chemistry underwrites a sequence of heuristic policies that help to isolate plausible synthetic routes from the array of possibilities provided by structural or descriptive organic chemistry. While this prior account makes a solid start, it does not capture all of the ways that the theory of organic chemistry contributes to total synthesis. This article aspires to enrich this account by exploring some additional ways that theory contributes. More specifically, I investigate how understanding the theory of organic chemistry can facilitate both the development of novel synthetic reactions and the implementation of a synthetic plan. The role of theory in these aspects of total synthesis will be explored by considering a particular, novel synthesis of longifolene.



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William Goodwin
University of South Florida

Citations of this work

Sustaining a Controversy: The Non-classical Ion Debate.William Goodwin - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (4):787-816.
Quantum Chemistry and Organic Theory.William Goodwin - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (5):1159-1169.
Towards Teaching Chemistry as a Language.Pierre Laszlo - 2013 - Science & Education 22 (7):1669-1706.

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References found in this work

Theories of explanation.Joseph C. Pitt (ed.) - 1988 - New York: Oxford University Press.
How science is applied in technology.Mieke Boon - 2006 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 20 (1):27 – 47.
Structural formulas and explanation in organic chemistry.W. M. Goodwin - 2008 - Foundations of Chemistry 10 (2):117-127.

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