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Phlogiston as a Case Study of Scientific Rationality

Hricko, Jonathon (2014) Phlogiston as a Case Study of Scientific Rationality. [Preprint]

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Abstract

A number of prominent defenders of the phlogiston theory identified phlogiston with hydrogen in the late eighteenth century, and I argue that this identification was fairly well-entrenched by the early nineteenth century. In light of this identification, I examine the ways in which retaining phlogiston could have retarded scientific progress, and also the ways in which it could have benefited science. I argue that it was rational for chemists to eliminate phlogiston, but that it also would have been rational for them to retain it. I situate my arguments for these claims in relation to Hasok Chang's recent work on the Chemical Revolution. And I conclude that there is a sense in which scientific rationality concerns what is permissible, as opposed to what is required, so that retention and elimination may, at least sometimes, both be rationally permissible options.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Hricko, Jonathonjonathon.hricko@gmail.com
Keywords: phlogiston, oxygen, Chemical Revolution, rationality
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Chemistry
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Depositing User: Jonathon Hricko
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2014 14:10
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2014 14:10
Item ID: 11040
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Chemistry
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Date: 23 September 2014
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/11040

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