Was Duhem Justified in not Distinguishing Between Physical and Chemical Atomism?

Paul Needham


Chemists in the late nineteenth century were apt to distinguish the theory of chemical structure they advocated as chemical, as opposed to physical, atomism. The failure on Duhem’s part to consider any such distinction in his critique of atomism might be taken to be a lacuna in his argument. Far from being a weakness in his stance, however, I argue that he had good systematic reasons for not taking such a distinction seriously.


Pierre Duhem; atomism; caloric; chemistry; thermodynamics

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24117/2526-2270.2017.i2.10


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ISSN: 2526-2270

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