Book ID: CBB001213213

Is Water H2O? Evidence, Realism and Pluralism (2012)


Chang, Hasok (Author)


Publication Date: 2012
Physical Details: xxi + 316 pp.; ill.
Language: English

This book exhibits deep philosophical quandaries and intricacies of the historical development of science lying behind a simple and fundamental item of common sense in modern science, namely the composition of water as H2O. Three main phases of development are critically re-examined, covering the historical period from the 1760s to the 1860s: the Chemical Revolution (through which water first became recognized as a compound, not an element), early electrochemistry (by which water's compound nature was confirmed), and early atomic chemistry (in which water started out as HO and became H2O). In each case, the author concludes that the empirical evidence available at the time was not decisive in settling the central debates, and therefore the consensus that was reached was unjustified, or at least premature. This leads to a significant re-examination of the realism question in the philosophy of science, and a unique new advocacy for pluralism in science. Each chapter contains three layers, allowing readers to follow various parts of the book at their chosen level of depth and detail. The second major study in "complementary science", this book offers a rare combination of philosophy, history and science in a bid to improve scientific knowledge through history and philosophy of science.

Reviewed By

Review Nye, Mary Jo (2013) Review of "Is Water H2O? Evidence, Realism and Pluralism". Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology (pp. 433-434). unapi

Review Boantza, Victor (2015) Review of "Is Water H2O? Evidence, Realism and Pluralism". British Journal for the History of Science (pp. 181-183). unapi

Essay Review Mcevoy, John G. (2013) The Tensile Functions of HPS. Metascience: An International Review Journal for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science (pp. 653-658). unapi

Essay Review Needham, Paul (2013) Questioning the Justification of Past Science. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science (pp. 85-93). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Henry, Marc
Jacoby, Franklin
Mets, Ave
Hijmans, Sarah N.
Borg, George
Llored, Jean-Pierre
Substantia: An International Journal of the History of Chemistry
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Foundations of Chemistry
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Science and Education
Perspectives on Science
Oxford University Press
Sutton Publishing, Ltd.
MIT Press
HYLE Publications
Philosophy of science
Revolutions in science
Chemical elements
Kuhn, Thomas S.
Ritter, Johann Wilhelm
Paneth, Friedrich Adolf
Mendeleev, Dmitri Ivanovich
Lavoisier, Antoine Laurent
Hacking, Ian
Time Periods
19th century
20th century
18th century
21st century
17th century
Great Britain
Académie Royale des Sciences (France)
International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry

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