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‘Elements, compounds and other chemical kinds’

Hendry, R.F.

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In this paper I assess the problems and prospects of a microstructural approach to chemical substances. Kripke and Putnam famously claimed that (a) to be gold is to have atomic number 79, and (b) to be water is to be H2O. I relate (a) to the concept of element in the history of chemistry, arguing that the reference of element names is determined by atomic number. Compounds are more difficult: water is so complex and heterogeneous at the molecular level that ‘water is H2O’ seems false. I sketch a response to this problem.


Hendry, R. (2006). ‘Elements, compounds and other chemical kinds’. Philosophy of Science, 73(5), 864-875.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2006-12
Deposit Date Jul 28, 2008
Publicly Available Date Jul 28, 2008
Journal Philosophy of Science
Print ISSN 0031-8248
Publisher Philosophy of Science Association
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 73
Issue 5
Pages 864-875
Keywords Chemical substances, Natural kinds, Essentialism.
Publisher URL


Published Journal Article (71 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© 2006 by the Philosophy of Science Association

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