Emergence and quantum chemistry

Foundations of Chemistry 14 (3):245-274 (2012)
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This paper first queries what type of concept of emergence, if any, could be connected with the different chemical activities subsumed under the label ‘quantum chemistry’. In line with Roald Hoffmann, we propose a ‘rotation to research laboratory’ in order to point out how practitioners hold a molecular whole, its parts, and the surroundings together within their various methods when exploring chemical transformation. We then identify some requisite contents that a concept of emergence must incorporate in order to be coherent from the standpoint of the scientific practices involved. In this respect, we finally propose a relational form of emergence which pays attention to the constitutive role of the modes of intervention and to the co-definition of the levels of organization. No metaphysical distinction between the higher and basic levels of organization is supposed, but only a plurality of modes of access. Moreover, these modes of access are not construed as mere ways of revealing intrinsic patterns of organization but, on the contrary, are considered to be active elements on which the constitution of those patterns depends. What is at stake in this paper is therefore not an ontological form of emergence but an agnostic one which fits what chemists do in their daily work



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References found in this work

Making sense of emergence.Jaegwon Kim - 1999 - Philosophical Studies 95 (1-2):3-36.
The Rise and Fall of British Emergentism.Brian P. Mclaughlin - 1992 - In Ansgar Beckermann, Hans Flohr & Jaegwon Kim (eds.), Emergence or Reduction?: Essays on the Prospects of Nonreductive Physicalism. New York: W. de Gruyter. pp. 49-93.
Reductive Explanation: A Functional Account.William C. Wimsatt - 1972 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1974:671-710.

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