Investigating Consistencies, Inconsistencies, and the Meaning of the Ceteris Paribus Clause in Chemistry

Humana Mente 10 (32):53-74 (2017)
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Chemists do not aim at testing preconceptions or theoretical hypotheses only; they first and foremost produce and determine the object of chemical investigation: they learn through making. They never cease to create and stabilize heterogeneous devices, methods, models, and theories in order to act upon the world. Chemical bodies cannot be studied in isolation; their properties constitutively depend on what surrounds and acts upon them. Starting from the specificity of chemical practices, this paper investigates the meaning of consistency, inconsistency, and that of the ceteris paribus clause, in this domain of science. In so doing, it defends the idea that studying what we call ‘a lack of consistency’ should always include the scrutiny of: the way a particular scientific practice is stabilized, and the ontological or pragmatic assumptions about the entities and processes upon which this practice revolves.



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