Department of Chemistry
Department of Chemistry
University of Cincinnati
Department of Biology
University of Texas, El Paso
New Journal Announcement
Foundations of Chemistry
State of the Art and Scope of JournalNew disciplines have continued to form within philosophy of science, including philosophy of physics, biology, psychology, social science and economics. One notable exception until recently was the philosophy of chemistry. This has been somewhat surprising in view of the intermediate position which chemistry occupies between physics and biology in the often cited reductive hierarchy of the sciences. This situation has now begun to change as seen in the numerous conferences dealing with foundational and philosophical aspects of chemistry, the formation of an international society for philosophy of chemistry and the publication of this journal.
In addition there has recently been a resurgence of interest from chemists themselves on the nature of their subject area. This has included books and articles by the likes of Roald Hoffman, Pierre Laszlo and Peter Atkins. This new journal seeks to provide an interdisciplinary forum where chemists, philosophers and historians, can discuss conceptual and fundamental issues which relate to the central science of chemistry.
Philosophy of chemistry has indeed recently begun to develop an autonomous discipline. Many philosophers feel that its inception is long overdue and regard this as one of the leading growth areas in philosophy of science. However the aim of this journal is not to cater just to philosophers and hence the choice of a title which does not contain the word philosophy. It is felt by many that we are witnessing the upsurge of a new interdisciplinary field which should be nurtured and not limited by the setting of disciplinary boundaries at this early stage.
The language of chemistry and the question of representation in chemistry are areas which continue to exercise the minds of reflective chemists. In addition there are questions of chemical evolution, of environmental concern, of industrial application, of the very essence of chemical thinking and of the social aspects of chemistrys professionalism. Others are interested in the nature of modeling or the role of instrumentation in chemistry, the nature of the molecule and the function of chaos and order in molecular substance. More typically philosophical themes have included works on the nature of explanation in the chemical sciences, the issue of realism and the question concerning theoretical terms.
The question of the reduction of chemistry to physics and in particular quantum mechanics has continued to generate discussion in the literature. It has been suggested that the commonly held misconception that chemistry does indeed reduce to quantum mechanics has contributed to the relative neglect of chemistry by philosophers. The journal will provide a medium for discussing the reduction of chemistry as understood by philosophers as well as computational quantum chemists.
The search for the origin of life appears to be turning increasingly to basic chemistry in an attempt to answer questions relating to recognition and self-replication of molecules. Indeed the discovery of artificial self-replication was carried out by chemists as distinct from molecular biologists. Similarly, the new field of bio-inorganic chemistry appears to be poised to share the limelight with molecular biology. The journal will publish research in all these areas including molecular biology, medical chemistry and macromolecular chemistry.
Themes of chemical structure and identity as well as the creative and aesthetic dimensions of chemical synthesis and the role of the senses in chemical work are all areas in which recent studies have occurred in addition to research in chemical models and metaphors. There is also fine work being written in ancient Greek chemistry, medieval chemistry and alchemy.
Techniques for predicting therapeutic effects of chemical compounds are gaining in prominence as are studies on molecular complexity and interstellar chemistry as a guide to life elsewhere. All these apparently diverse areas would benefit being collected together with works on fundamental chemical thought.
Chemical educators have become increasingly aware of the potential benefits of a deeper understanding of the chemical sciences. The journal will seek to publish material of a didactic nature relating to all aspects of chemistry and related disciplines.
The journal plans to feature special issues devoted to particular themes such as the development of atomism. Historians of science have recently turned increasingly to chemistry in re-examining such themes as the periodic system (Stephen Brush) and the emergence of quantum chemistry (Kostas Gavroglu). The journal will endeavor to promote this trend by soliciting historical works on all aspects of chemistry and biochemistry.
In addition the journal will contain book reviews and discussion notes on the kinds of issues mentioned above. The major aim is to foster discourse between chemists, biochemists, philosophers, historians, sociologists and educators with an interest in foundational issues relating to the chemical sciences.
Members of the International Society for Philosophy of Chemistry can receive the journal at the reduced rate of $45.00 per annum. The cost of membership is $5.00 and can be obtained from Dr. D.Rothbart.
Call for PapersWe aim to publish the proceedings of the session on Chemistry and Philosophy, Are they Miscible?, held at the American Chemical Society meeting in San Francisco, April 1997, as part of the first few issues of Foundations of Chemistry. The journal also invites other submissions onfoundational issues of chemistry as described above. Inquiries etc. should be directed to Eric Scerri, preferably by email.
Please note, all submissions to Foundations of Chemistry should be initially sent directly to Kluwer head offices at:
Free Sample CopyFor a free sample copy of Foundations of Chemistry (when available) and subscription information, write to: