Chemistry as a practical science

Foundations of Chemistry 18 (3):213-223 (2016)
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Abstract

This is an attempt to take a look at chemistry from the point of view of practical realism. Besides its social–historical and normative aspects, the latter involves a direct reference to experimental research. According to Edward Caldin chemistry depends on our being able to isolate pure substances with reproducible properties. Thus, the very basis of chemistry is practical. Even the laws of chemistry are not stable but are subject to correction. At the same time, these statements do not necessarily make Edward Caldin a predecessor of practical realism. The latter has other predecessors, like Rom Harré’s policy realism or Sami Pihlström’s pragmatic realism. Chemistry is an experimental science. The experiment is a purposeful and critically theory-guided constructive, manipulative, material interference with nature according to Rein Vihalemm, the founder of practical realism. Chemistry is physics-like science but just partly so. This is an important point in the context of the current paper.

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