Hettema, Hinne (2007) Is Quantum Chemistry a Degenerating Research Programme? [Preprint]
This note is intended to address one particular issue in the relative status of Quantum Chemistry in comparison to both Chemistry and Physics. It has been suggested, in the context of the question of the reduction relations between Chemistry and Physics that Quantum Chemistry as a research programme is incapable of furnishing useful guidance to practising chemists. If true, this claim will let us qualify Quantum Chemistry as a degenerating research programme, which, due to its complexity has difficulty to be applied to Chemistry. This claim is shown to be false. The replacement claim I wish to make is that Quantum Chemistry is perfectly capable of furnishing such guidance, but renders the ontological status of many models favored by chemists problematic. Quantum Chemistry, however, validates these models in an instrumental fashion. I will argue that Quantum Chemistry is a progressive research programme.
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