In this encyclopedia article, Vanessa presents how chemistry’s relation to physics has been understood in philosophy. Chemistry’s relation to physics, and in particular to quantum mechanics, is one of the most discussed issues in the philosophy of chemistry literature. This article situates this discussion around the dilemma between reduction and emergence. While there is a broad consensus that chemistry is not epistemically reducible to quantum mechanics, some have argued that there are epistemic and metaphysical connections between the two sciences which can be spelled out by an alternative form of reduction or unity. On the other side of the spectrum, there are philosophers who argue for the autonomy of chemistry from quantum mechanics in terms of different accounts of pluralism and emergence. The aim of this article is to present all existing views on this debate.
The purpose of the IEP is to provide detailed, scholarly, peer-reviewed information on key topics and philosophers in all areas of academic philosophy.
This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, grant agreement No 771509. All project outputs are published Open Access. Website photo credit: Matt Lincoln Photography
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