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The Physicists, the Chemists, and the Pragmatics of Explanation

Robin Findlay Hendry
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 71, No. 5, Proceedings of the 2002 Biennial Meeting of The Philosophy of Science AssociationPart II: Symposia PapersEdited by Sandra D. Mitchell (December 2004), pp. 1048-1059
DOI: 10.1086/428009
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/428009
Page Count: 12
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The Physicists, the Chemists, and the Pragmatics of Explanation
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Abstract

In this paper I investigate two views of theoretical explanation in quantum chemistry, advocated by John Clarke Slater and Charles Coulson. Slater argued for quantum‐mechanical rigor, and the primacy of fundamental principles in models of chemical bonding. Coulson emphasized systematic explanatory power within chemistry, and continuity with existing chemical explanations. I relate these views to the epistemic contexts of their disciplines.

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