Quantum mechanical atom models, legitimate explanations and mechanisms

Foundations of Chemistry 23 (3):407-429 (2021)
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Abstract

The periodic table is one of the best-known systems of classification in science. Because of the information it contains, it raises explanation-seeking questions. Quantum mechanical models of the behaviour of electrons may be seen as providing explanations in response to these questions. In this paper we first address the question ‘Do quantum mechanical models of atoms provide legitimate explanations?’ Because our answer is positive, our next question is ‘Are the explanations provided by quantum mechanical models of atoms mechanistic explanations?’. This question is motivated by the fact that in many scientific disciplines, mechanistic explanations are abundant. Because our answer to the second question is negative, our last question is ‘What kind of explanation do quantum mechanical models of atom provide?’ By addressing these questions, we shed light on the nature of an important type of chemical explanation.

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References found in this work

Depth: An Account of Scientific Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2008 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
The New Mechanical Philosophy.Stuart Glennan - 2017 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
The Periodic Table, Its Story and Its Significance.Eric R. Scerri - 2007 - New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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