HYLE--International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry, Vol. 8, No.2 (2002), pp. 77-78
Copyright Ó 2002 by HYLE and Joachim Schummer

Editorial, No. 2

Since several decades there has been increasing interest in risk studies by both philosophers and sociologists, because the classical risk formula (risk is the extent of a damage multiplied by its probability) fails to cover psychological, sociological, and epistemological aspects of risk perception. Debates are still ongoing as to whether an objectivist or a subjectivist notion of risk is more suitable. In addition, debates increasingly focus on the risks of chemicals with respect to both the environment and human health. Obviously, here is a field for philosophy of chemistry. In "DDT and the Dynamics of Risk Knowledge Production", Stefan Böschen provides a case study of the development of risk knowledge about DDT. With his combined sociological and epistemological views on the history, he argues that the originally vague risk hypotheses acquired the status of facts in a discourse that involved scientists and politicians.

The recent emergence of the philosophy of chemistry since about 1990 should not make us forget that there was philosophy of chemistry before. Particularly in the 1960s, there were many efforts in different countries and from different disciplines to establish philosophical reflections on chemistry. This includes the British physical chemists Edward F. Caldin (1914–1999) who not only helped set up a history and philosophy of science program at the University of Kent at Canterbury; he also published an important paper and a booklet on the philosophy of chemistry. Because the latter is long out of print and difficult to access, we reprint his "The Structure of Chemistry in Relation to the Philosophy of Science", a classic in the philosophy of chemistry from 1961, now as an HYLE article. I am much obliged to Maurice Crosland for writing a biographical preface in honor of Edward Caldin, and to Hugh Caldin, his son, for copyright permission.

Another chemist who became engaged in philosophy in England shortly before was Michael Polanyi (1891-1976). Mary Jo Nye continues our series of Short Biographies of Philosophizing Chemists with an excellent biography of Polanyi that provides new insights in his turn from chemistry to philosophy. 

As usual, our book reviews keep readers up-to-date with important publications in the history and philosophy chemistry and bring fresh ideas. David Knight, in his review of Chemical Sciences in the Twentieth Century (ed. C. Reinhardt), reflects on the particular difficulties for historians of recent chemistry. Guido Giglioni’s review of Allen Debus’ Chemistry and Medical Debate clarifies the relationships between various philosophies in early modern Europe. Harry Pence investigates the impact of the chemical industry on chemistry in his review of The German Chemical Industry in the Twentieth Century (ed. J.E. Lesch). Joachim Schummer suggests that philosophers of chemistry should transcend disciplinary boundaries as Maureen Christie has done in her The Ozone Layer. In addition, for those who have missed to attend the Sixth Summer Symposium on Philosophy of Chemistry in Washington DC in August 2002, Joseph E. Earley provides a concise report.

Finally, I am pleased to announce that, in connection with the HYLE Journal, we are now launching a new book series, HYLE Studies in History and Philosophy of Chemistry (ISSN: 1610-6067). Distinguished scholars in the field have agreed to serve on the Editorial Advisory Board to ensure the highest scholarly quality. HYLE Studies will be closely published with the journal as a series of online books in various languages by HYLE Publications. Readers of the journal have free access from the HYLE Publication website. Through that service, we hope to meet scholarly needs at a time when commercial publishers reduce their activities in the humanities or raise their prizes beyond acceptable limits.

The first two fine editions of HYLE Studies in History and Philosophy of Chemistry are now available. Ralph Cahn opens the series with a book on Philosophical and Historical Aspects of the Periodic System of the Chemical Elements (in German). The second edition is Julia Neus’ comprehensive study on Aromaticity: History and Mathematical Analysis of a Fundamental Chemical Concept (also in German). Further books are in preparation. 

In addition to paper submission to the HYLE Journal, we are now soliciting book manuscripts for the HYLE Studies.

Joachim Schummer, Editor

Copyright Ó 2002 by HYLE and Joachim Schummer