The Scientist's Atom and the Philosopher's Stone: How Science Succeeded and Philosophy Failed to Gain Knowledge of Atoms by Alan ChalmersThe Scientist's Atom and the Philosopher's Stone: How Science Succeeded and Philosophy Failed to Gain Knowledge of Atoms by Alan Chalmers

The Scientist's Atom and the Philosopher's Stone: How Science Succeeded and Philosophy Failed to…

byAlan Chalmers

Paperback | December 15, 2010

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Drawing on the results of his own scholarly research as well as that of others the author offers, for the first time, a comprehensive and documented history of theories of the atom from Democritus to the twentieth century. This is not history for its own sake. By critically reflecting on the various versions of atomic theories of the past the author is able to grapple with the question of what sets scientific knowledge apart from other kinds of knowledge, philosophical knowledge in particular. He thereby engages historically with issues concerning the nature and status of scientific knowledge that were dealt with in a more abstract way in his What Is This Thing Called Science?, a book that has been a standard text in philosophy of science for three decades and which is available in nineteen languages. Speculations about the fundamental structure of matter from Democritus to the seventeenth-century mechanical philosophers and beyond are construed as categorically distinct from atomic theories amenable to experimental investigation and support and as contributing little to the latter from a historical point of view. The thesis will provoke historians and philosophers of science alike and will require a revision of a range of standard views in the history of science and philosophy. The book is key reading for students and scholars in History and Philosophy of Science and will be instructive for and provide a challenge to philosophers, historians and scientists more generally.

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Title:The Scientist's Atom and the Philosopher's Stone: How Science Succeeded and Philosophy Failed to…Format:PaperbackDimensions:300 pages, 9.25 × 6.1 × 0.27 inPublished:December 15, 2010Publisher:Springer NetherlandsLanguage:English

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ISBN - 10:9400705336

ISBN - 13:9789400705333

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1.  Atomism: Science or philosophy?1.1 Introduction1.2 Science and philosophy transcend the evidence for them1.3 How the claims of science are confirmed1.4 Inference to the best explanation1.5  Science involves experimental activity and conceptual innovation1.6 Reading the past in the light of the present1.7 Writing history of science backwards1.8 The structure of the book1.9 A note on terminologyChapter 2.  Democritean atomism2.1 Philosophy as the refinement of common sense by reason2.2 Parmenides and the denial of change2.3 The atomism of Leucippus and Democritus: The basics2.4 Atomic explanations of properties2.5 Atomic explanations of specific phenomena2.6 Atomism as a response to Zeno's paradoxes2.7 Aristotle's critique of indivisible magnitudes2.8 Did Democritus propose indivisible magnitudes as a response to Zeno?2.9 Democritean atomism: an appraisalChapter 3.  How did Epicurus's garden grow?3.1 Epicureanism3.2 Physical atoms in the void3.3 Atoms and indivisible magnitudes3.4 Atomic speeds and observable speeds3.5 Gravity3.6 Explaining the phenomena by appeal only to atoms and the void3.7 The status and role of the evidence of the senses3.8 Knowledge of atoms: Getting closer?Chapter 4. Atomism in its Ancient Greek perspective4.1 Philosophical atomism versus less ambitious projects4.2 The Aristotelian alternative4.3 Hints of a granular structure of matter in Aristotle4.4 Granular versus ultimate structures4.5 Greek 'science'Chapter 5.  From the Ancient Greeks to the dawn of science5.1 Introduction5.2 Natural minima5.3 Hardline vesus liberal interpretations of Aristotle5.4 Aristotelianism and alchemy5.5 Geber's 'atomism'5.6 The statis and fate of Geber's integration of Aristotle and alchemy5.7 Currents of thought leading to Sennert's atomism5.8 Sennert's atomic theory5.9 The status of Sennert's atomismChapter 6.  Atomism, experiment and the mechanical philosophy: The work of Robert Boyle6.1 What was scientific about the scientific revolution?6.2 Boyle's version of the mechanical philosophy6.3 Boyle's case for the mechanical philosophy6.4 Boyle's use of the microscopic/microscopic analogy6.5 Boyle's experimental science as distinct from the mechanical philosophy6.6 Empirical support for the mechanical philosophy6.7 The lack of fertility of the mechanical philosophy6.8 The various senses of 'mechanical'6.9 Boyle's mechanical philosophy and experimental support for atomsChapter 7.  Newton's atomism and its fate7.1 Introduction7.2 Newton's science7.3 Newton's atomism7.4 The case for Newton's atomism 7.5 The fate of Newtonian atomism in the eighteenth centuryChapter 8. The emergence of modern chemistry with no debt to atomism8.1 Introduction.8.2 Klein on Geoffroy and the concepts of chemical substance, compound and combination8.3 Reflections on Klein's account of chemical combination8.4 Boyle's chemistry: Some preliminaries8.5 Boyle's mechanical rather than chemical construal of substances8.6 Boyle on the properties of chemical corpuscles8.7 Chemical properties and essential properties8.8 The mechanical philosophy versus the experimental philosophy8.9 Newtonian affinities8.10 Chemistry from Newton to LavoisierChapter 9.  Dalton's atomism and its creative modification via formulae9.1  Introduction9.2 Dalton's atomism9.3 Dalton's atomic chemistry9.4 The introduction of chemical formulae by Berzelius9.5 The binary theory of Berzelius9.6 Chemical formulae and the rise of organic chemistry9.7 Chemical formulae a victory for atomism?9.8 Dalton's resistance to chemical formulae9.9 Is my critique of nineteenth-century atomism positivist?Chapter 10.  From Avogadro to Cannizzaro: The Old Story.10.1  Introduction..10.2  Avogadro's hypothesis according to Avogadro.10.3  Ampère's version of Avogadro's hypothesis and geometrical atomism.10.4  Vapour densities and specific heats as a path to atomic weights.10.5  Cannizzaro reappraised.10.6  Was the determination of atomic weights important?Chapter 11.  Thermodynamics and the kinetic theory11.1  Introduction11.2  The rise of thermodynamics11.3  Thermal dissociation and affinities11.4  Early versions of the kinetic theory11.5  The statistical kinetic theory11.6  Problems with the kinetic theory11.7  The status of the kinetic theory in 1900Chapter 12.  Experimental contact with molecules12.1  Introduction. 12.2  Brownian motion12.3  The density distribution of Brownian particles12.4  Experimental details12.5 Support for the kinetic theory12.6 The mean displacement and mean rotation of Brownian particles12.7 The kinetic theory confirmed? - a nuanced discussionChapter 13.  Experimental contact with electrons13.1  Introduction13.2  Historical background to the experiments of 1896/713.3  Discovery of the Zeeman effect13.4  Thomson's experiments on cathode rays13.5  The significance of the experiments on charged particlesChapter 14.  Atomism Vindicated?14.1  Introduction14.2  Did philosophical atomism play a productive heuristic role?14.3  Twentieth-century atomism a victory for scientific realism?14.4  In my end is my beginningReferencesIndex

Editorial Reviews

From the reviews:"It's reasonable to see philosophy and science as natural partners, complementary in their application and intimately related. . Alan Chalmers textbook is an example of the healthy relationship that can, and often does, exist. It is therefore a welcome addition to the philosophy of science and should benefit students of philosophy and science . . it will help put the relationship between science and philosophy into the right perspective. . This serves to provide a comprehensive history of the relationship between philosophy and science." (Ken Perrott, Open Parachute, August, 2009)"The current book arose from Chalmers teaching of an advanced level HPS course . in the early 1990s. . a detailed scholarly work for graduate students, historians and philosophers. . Chalmers' extensive research (about 250 references cited) his clarity of expression and well structured argument mean that both immodest realists and constructivists can benefit from a close and thoughtful reading of Atomism." (Michael R. Matthews, Science & Education, March, 2010)"Alan Chalmers has strong views about what does and does not deserve to be considered 'science'. In this book he examines a number of historical developments that are frequently cited in accounts of the origin of the outlook . . those generally used in introductory chemistry courses--and to take issue with specialized historians and philosophers. . historical stories widely used as background for introductory chemistry courses merits the serious attention of professional philosophers and historians, and also of science educators." (Joseph E. Earley, Foundations of Chemistry, Vol. 13, 2011)"This book offers a conceptual history of atomism from the pre-Socratics to the end of the nineteenth century. . the first covers ancient Greek and medieval atomic and matter theories; the second deals with the scientific and chemical revolutions; and the third takes the story from Dalton through to the experimental discovery of the electron . . Chalmers makes his arguments clearly, powerfully and well. . inspire debates not only in those fields, but also in related fields within science studies." (Seth Suman, British Journal for the History of Science, Vol. 44 (3), September, 2011)"Alan Chalmers has written by far the most important and incisive book of recent years on the fundamental and difficult notions of atoms and atomism. . In each chapter of his book Chalmers outlines modern lines of scholarship concerning the history of chemistry and physics . . Chalmers' book is a masterpiece in the history and philosophy of science and on a neglected topic of great importance. It should be read by everyone with an interest in the field."­­­ (Eric Scerri, Metascience, Vol. 19, August, 2010)