•  114
    Most contemporary chemists consider quantum mechanics to be the foundational theory of their discipline, although few of the calculations that a strict reduction would seem to require have ever been produced. In this essay I discuss contemporary algebraic and diagrammatic representations of molecular systems derived from quantum mechanical models, specifically configuration interaction wavefunctions for ab initio calculations and molecular orbital energy diagrams. My aim is to suggest that recen…Read more
  •  67
    This essay explores the connection between representation and explanation in the sciences. I suggest that scientific representation schemes be viewed as pragmatic tools for acquiring the sort of articulated awareness that is the hallmark of nontrivial knowledge. Crystal field theory in chemistry illustrates this perspective. Certain representations achieve the status of being paradigmatically explanatory, thereby shaping models of intelligibility. In turn, these explanatory preferences serve lar…Read more
  •  62
    This essay addresses issues concerningexplanation by exploring how explanatorystructures function within contemporarychemistry. Three examples are discussed:explanations of the behavior of gases using theideal gas law, explanations of trends inchemical properties using the periodic table,and explanations of molecular geometry usingdiagrammatic orbital schemes. In each case,the general explanatory structure, rather thanparticular explanations, occupies center stagein the analysis. It is argued th…Read more
  •  15
    Philosophy of Science 81 (5). 2014.
  •  12
    How is the Ideal Gas Law Explanatory?
    Science & Education 22 (7): 1563-1580. 2013.
  •  6
    Philosophy of Science 80 (5): 611-612. 2013.
  • This dissertation examines how we may meaningfully attribute explanatoriness to theoretical structures and in turn, how such attributions can, and should, influence theory assessment generally. In this context, I argue against "inference to the best explanation" accounts of explanatory power as well as the deflationary "answers to why questions" proposal of van Fraassen. Though my analysis emphases the role of unification in explanation, I demonstrate ways in which Kitcher's particular account i…Read more