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Three Concepts of Chemical Closure and their Epistemological Significance

Earley, Joseph E. (2010) Three Concepts of Chemical Closure and their Epistemological Significance. [Preprint]


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Philosophers have long debated ‘substrate’ and ‘bundle’ theories as to how properties hold together in objects ― but have neglected to consider that every chemical entity is defined by closure of relationships among components ― here designated ‘Closure Louis de Broglie.’ That type of closure underlies the coherence of spectroscopic and chemical properties of chemical substances, and is importantly implicated in the stability and definition of entities of many other types, including those usually involved in philosophic discourse ― such as roses, statues, and tennis balls. Characteristics of composites are often presumed to ‘supervene on’ properties of components. This assumption does not apply when cooperative interactions among components are significant (as they usually are in chemistry). Once correlations dominate, then adequate descriptions must involve different entities and relationships than those that are involved in ‘fundamental-level’ description of similar but uncorrelated systems. That is to say, descriptions must involve different semantics (topology) than would be appropriate if cooperative interactions were insignificant. This is termed ‘Closure Henri Poincaré. Networks of chemical reactions that have certain types of closure of processes display properties that make other more-complex coherences (such as biological and cultural systems) possible. This is termed ‘Closure Jacques Cauvin.’ Each of these three modes of closure provides a sufficient basis for warranted recognition of causal interaction, thus each of them has epistemological significance. Other modes of epistemologically-important closure probably exist. It is important to recognize that causal efficacy generally depends on closure of relationships of constituents.

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Item Type: Preprint
Earley, Joseph E.
Additional Information: An earlier version of this paper was presented at the workshop "Epistemology of Chemistry: roots, methods and concepts," at the Centre de Recherche en Épistémologie Appliquée, École Polytechnique, Paris, France. September 11, 2010.
Keywords: substrate theory, bundle theory, closure, dihydrogen molecule, Process Structural Realism, asymptotic approximation, concentration robustness, networks of chemical reactions, Louis de Broglie, Henri Poincaré, Jaques Cauvin, affordance, epistemology of chemistry, philosophy of chemistry.
Subjects: General Issues > Structure of Theories
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Specific Sciences > Chemistry
Depositing User: Dr. Joseph E. Earley
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2010 11:18
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2010 11:18
Item ID: 5565
Subjects: General Issues > Structure of Theories
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Specific Sciences > Chemistry
Date: September 2010

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