Chemical Discovery and the Logicians' Program

  • ID: 2179552
  • Book
  • 207 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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What is it that turns a new observation into a true scientific discovery? And who may claim the credit for it? Theoreticians of science, the foremost thinkers of their times among them, have tried to answer these fundamental questions about the nature of scientific progress and discovery.

With clear insight and the chemical as well as philosophical wisdom of more than fifty years as a practising chemist, Jerome Berson puts their theories to the test. The development of chemistry into a "modern" science during the last two centuries provides him with ample cases to illustrate the way scientific progress really happens.

Kekulé′s struggle to arrive at a structure for benzene, the paradigm change that was necessary to accept the reality of molecular rearrangements, and other episodes are retold here from the philosopher′s as well as from the practitioner′s perspective, shedding light on the way scientists think and act.

Berson′s account of the rather unphilosophical way in which scientific discoveries are made includes the realization that even a false hypothesis, such as Woodward′s ideas about the biosynthesis of strychnine and many other alkaloids, may help rather than hinder scientific progress.

Scientists of all ages, as well as many non–scientists, will find book to be highly readable and insightful.

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Introduction

Theories Built up from Observations. The Inductivist Ideal

Theories from Anywhere: Popper′s Philosophy of Conjections and Refutations

Refutation by Internal Contradiction. Kekule′s ′Hypothesis of Embarrassment′ and the Theory of Benzene

Are Crucial Experiments Conclusive? Refutations: Permanent, Temporary, and Virtual

Farewell to Stasis, Welcome to Metamorphosis: Refutation of Kekule′s Rule of Minimal Structural Change in the Discovery of Molecular Rearrangements

Some Non–Refutative Motivations in Science

False but Nevertheless Fruitful Theories. Speculations on the Biogenesis of Alkaloids

Epilogue

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Jerome A. Berson
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