Chemistry and Measurement: Some Philosophical Lessons

Perspectives on Science 29 (6):782-801 (2021)
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Abstract

How do chemists assign numbers to chemicals properties? What do these numbers refer to? To answer these questions, we will first point out both the context-dependence of chemicals and the epistemic limitations of chemistry. We will then investigate how chemists use various procedures to stabilize measurements and how they use mixtures of samples as “references” in order to determine the amount of different chemicals in a sample. This study will enable us to query how it is possible for chemists to change one factor while holding others constant at each step of the measurement procedure. This part of our work which will lead us to query the meaning of the ceteris paribus clause and the very possibility of making holistic inferences in the domain of chemistry. To conclude, we will highlight how methodological pluralism developed by chemists makes it possible for a relational type of consistency to emerge.

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References found in this work

Philosophy of Natural Science.Carl G. Hempel - 1967 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 18 (1):70-72.
Philosophy of Chemistry.Joachim Schummer - 2010-01-04 - In Fritz Allhoff (ed.), Philosophies of the Sciences. Wiley‐Blackwell. pp. 163–183.
Ethics of Chemical Synthesis.Joachim Schummer - 2001 - Hyle 7 (2):103 - 124.

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