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The role of idealisations in describing an isolated molecule

Seifert, Vanessa A. (2019) The role of idealisations in describing an isolated molecule. Foundations of Chemistry. pp. 15-29. ISSN 1386-4238

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Abstract

The investigation of the relation between chemistry and quantum mechanics includes examining how the two theories each describe an isolated molecule. This paper focuses on one particular characteristic of chemistry’s and quantum mechanics’ descriptions of an isolated molecule; namely on the assumptions made by each description that an isolated molecule is stable and has structure. The paper argues that these assumptions are an idealisation. First, this is because stability and structure are partially determined by factors that concern the context in which a molecule is considered (i.e. thermodynamic conditions, time-range of experiment, environment, etc.). Secondly, the stability and structure of a molecule can only be empirically identified with reference to those factors. This paper examines these assumptions in the context of the philosophical literature on idealisations. This examination is a novel contribution that raises interesting questions about the relation between the two theories, the nature of stability and structure, and the function of these assumptions in the two theories.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Seifert, Vanessa A.vs14902@bristol.ac.uk0000-0002-5391-0791
Keywords: Idealisations; Molecular structure; Isolation
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Chemistry
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Depositing User: Dr. Vanessa A. Seifert
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2022 01:03
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2022 01:03
Item ID: 20195
Journal or Publication Title: Foundations of Chemistry
Publisher: Springer
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Chemistry
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Date: 24 September 2019
Page Range: pp. 15-29
ISSN: 1386-4238
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/20195

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