HYLE

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL FOR PHILOSOPHY OF CHEMISTRY

ISSN 1433-5158
University Courses in Philosophy of Chemistry
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Course Descriptions

   
Course Title Philosophy of Chemistry
By Rein Vihalemm
University University of Tartu
Country Estonia
Language Estonian
Brief Description The specificity of chemistry in philosophy of science. Physics as the model of science and the problem of reduction of chemistry to physics. The classical problems in philosophy of science and chemistry. Chemistry and contemporary metaphysics. Laws of nature and natural kinds in chemistry. Chemistry as a suitable subject for the historically oriented philosophy of science. The conceptual structure of the development of chemistry
Course Type lectures 20 hours, seminars 12 hours, independent work preparation for seminars and writing a paper 48 hours
First Offered spring 1997
Frequency annual, depending on interest
Student Level 3rd year or later
Offered to Students of chemistry
Obligatory/Optional optional
Course Material program (in Estonian) with reading list at: 
http://www.ut.ee/flfi 
Contact Details Rein Vihalemm (BSc in Chemistry; PhD in Philosophy)
Chair of Philosophy of Science in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Tartu; e-mail: Rein.Vihalemm@ut.ee
Last Update 08.04.02
   
Course Title Philosophy of Science
By Maureen Christie
University University of Melbourne
Country Australia
Language English
Brief Description This course considers philosophers' accounts of science, and examines important historical episodes in chemistry that challenge these accounts. Alchemy & Early Chemistry --scientific method; Phlogiston and oxygen research programmes and scientific revolutions. The Atomic Theory Invisible entities and evidence, etc. through to Quantum theory, reductionism, and the periodic law paradigm as a counter-example to Kuhn's and Lakatos' accounts. The last 30% is devoted to twentieth century investigations of stratospheric ozone, and issues like crucial experiments, prediction in science, and the precautionary principle.
Course Type 2 lectures & 1 discussion tutorial per week for 12 weeks
First Offered 1998
Frequency annual
Student Level undergraduate, years 2 & 3
Offered to Students of both Science & Humanities students
Obligatory/Optional optional course (stand-alone subject, part of History & Philosophy of Science sequence or major)
Course Material offline, available on request
Contact Details Dr Maureen Christie
Department of History & Philosophy of Science, University of Melbourne, 3010, Australia; email: m.christie@hps.unimelb.edu.au
Last Update 08.04.02
   
Course Title Philosophy of Chemistry
By Claus Jacob
University University of Exeter
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Brief Description Philosophy of Chemistry explains the basic principles of induction, deduction, verification and falsification. Discussion of the differences between experiment and theory, properties of chemical language, basic rules of logical reasoning with specific applications taken from the undergraduate chemistry curriculum. Statement analysis.
Course Type 11 lectures & associated study time
First Offered fall 2002 (succeeds History and Philosophy of Chemistry, first offered 1999)
Frequency every two years (alternates with History of Chemistry)
Student Level 2nd and 3rd year undergraduates
Offered to Students of chemistry, open to other students
Obligatory/Optional optional
Course Material lecture notes electronically available on request
Contact Details Dr. Claus Jacob
School of Chemistry, University of Exeter, Stocker Road, Exeter EX4 4QD, U.K.; email: C.Jacob@ex.ac.uk)
Last Update 08.04.02
   
Course Title Introduction to the History and Philosophy of Chemistry
By Joachim Schummer
University University of Karlsruhe
Country Germany
Language German
Brief Description The first part provides an outline of selected historical phases and variants of chemistry: Speculative philosophy of nature in ancient Greece (Demokritos, Plato, Aristotle). The many faces of alchemy. The "chemical revolution". 19th-century theory building. The emergence of physical and theoretical chemistry.
The second part deals with selected philosophical topics: What is chemistry? Interdisciplinarity versus reductionism regarding both physics and biology. Methodological peculiarities of synthetic chemistry. The impact of instrumentation on analytical chemistry. Concepts of nature and the relation between chemistry and technology. Chemistry and society. Ethics of chemistry.
Course Type 12 lectures
First Offered spring 2000
Frequency irregular
Student Level undergraduate and graduate
Offered to Students of chemistry and humanities
Obligatory/Optional optional
Course Material program with selected material (in German) at:
http://www.uni-karlsruhe.de/~ed01/kurs/hpc/
Contact Details Dr. Joachim Schummer
Institute of Philosophy, University of Karlsruhe, D-76128 Karlsruhe, Germany; email: js@hyle.org
Last Update 08.04.02
   
Course Title Philosophy of Chemistry
By Gerold Wünsch
University University of Hannover
Country Germany
Language German
Brief Description Basic terms and concepts of theory of science as applied to chemistry, e.g. truth vs. correctness; theories, laws, explanations, causality. Methodology of chemical thinking, e.g. chances of success and failure of logical conclusions in chemistry; testing of chemical hypotheses with special regard to qualitative analysis. Formalizing chemical thinking: e.g. rules in expert systems. Systems theory as applied to chemistry. Information, decision and rationality in chemistry. Paradigms in the history of chemistry. What is the meaning of "chemistry" or of "substance"? Reductionism and emergentism. Public and political views on chemistry. Risk management in chemistry and its social aspects. Ethics of science and post-modern criticism of technology.
Course Type Lecture
First Offered spring 2002
Frequency  
Student Level undergraduate and graduate
Offered to Students of chemistry
Obligatory/Optional optional
Course Material Gerold Wünsch: Einführung in die Philosophie der Chemie. Studienbuch für Chemiker und an Chemie Interessierte, Königshausen u. Neumann, Würzburg 2000
Contact Details Prof. Dr. Gerold Wünsch
Institut für Anorganische Chemie, Universität Hannover, Callinstrasse 9, D-30167 Hannover, Germany; email: wuensch@mbox.acc.uni-hannover.de
Last Update 08.04.02
   
Course Title Creating Chemistry and Chemists: From Alchemy to the Buckyball
By Jody A. Roberts & Benjamin R. Cohen 
University Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Country USA
Language English
Brief Description Where did chemistry come from, why did people create it, how have they studied it, and what have they done with it? Historically, the practice of chemistry has been called an art, a craft, and a science. However, this course is not just a class in the history of chemistry--it is an exploration of the ideas and the people that have attempted to define chemistry. Such an approach will force us to consider philosophical, religious, and social issues. Therefore, the goal of the course is to provide students with the ability to consider the lessons of the past for the purpose of applying them to critical thinking today.
Course Type Lecture/seminar (small enough for discussion, but not so small so as to be a full seminar)
First Offered spring 2002
Frequency  
Student Level undergraduate (2000 level)
Offered to Students of chemistry / humanities (taught in the humanities but with a strong presence from science students)
Obligatory/Optional optional
Course Material offline
Contact Details Jody A. Roberts (jody@vt.edu) & Benjamin R. Cohen (bcohen@vt.edu)
Science & Technology Studies Program, 124 Lane Hall, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
Last Update 08.04.02
   

Course Title

Philosophy of Chemistry

By

Alfred Nordmann

University

Technische Universität Darmstadt

Country

Germany

Language

German (with some readings in English)

Brief Description

The seminar pursues two aims. First, it seeks to identify the specific character of chemistry within the framework of classical issues of the philosophy of science (laws of nature, realism, reductionism, instruments and experiments, theory and language). Second, it explores how philosophy stands to benefit from the consideration of chemistry how, in particular, conceptions of matter and form, of substance, of knowledge and agency present themselves differently from a "metachemical" rather than metaphysical point of view. Our readings include texts by Joachim Schummer, Jaap van Brakel, Joseph Earley, Armin Müller, Gaston Bachelard, Isabelle Stengers, Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent, Nikos Psarros, Peter Janich, Gernot Böhme, and others.

Course Type

Seminar

First Offered

2002/03

Frequency

occasional

Student Level

Introductory course

Offered to Students of

For philosophy, science, and engineering students at a technical university

Obligatory/Optional

optional

Course Material

offline

Contact Details

Alfred Nordmann, Institut für Philosophie, Technische Universität Darmstadt, 64283 Darmstadt, Tel. +49 (0)6151/162995, Nordmann@phil.tu-darmstadt.de

Last Update

09.01.03

 

 

Course Title

Historic Evolution of the Principles of Chemistry

By

Fernando Peral, Maria Dolores Troitino, Maria Cruz Izquierdo, Maria Angeles Plaza

University

Universidad Nacional de Educacion a Distancia (U.N.E.D.)

Country

Spain

Language

Spanish

Brief Description

A historic and critical study of chemical phenomena is developed, with the aim to analyse the evolution of the concepts proposed for their interpretation and their progressive formalization. The course is organized in 12 themes integrating two learning blocks, dedicated to the historic evolution of microscopic and macroscopic orientations of Chemistry, respectively. The first block studies the evolution of the atomic molecular view. The second block considers the equilibrium and kinetic studies. Historical and philosophical aspects are discussed, with emphasis on the evolution of the ideas of discontinuity, periodicity, chemical structure, affinity, and reaction rate.

Course Type

Course for learning at distance included in the Program of Formation of Teachers of U.N.E.D.

First Offered

January 2002

Frequency

annual (January June)

Student Level

graduate

Offered to Students of

Education, especially secondary education

Obligatory/Optional

optional

Course Material

Books (in Spanish): "Evolucion Historica de los Principios de la Quimica", M.C. Izquierdo, F. Peral, M.A. de la Plaza and M.D. Troitino, UNED, Madrid (2003), ISBN =84-362-4795-7; "Guia Didactica de Evolucion Historica de los Principios de la Quimica", UNED, ref. 84357, Madrid (2002). Web page: http://www.uned.es/pfp-evolucion-historica-principios-quimica/ . Radio: Program broadcasted on 2 March 2002 by Radio Nacional of Spain. Available as a Real Media file at: http://www.uned.es/cemav/ (Search: Radio, Programas emitidos).

Contact Details

Prof. Fernando Peral, Dept. Ciencias y Tecnicas Fisicoquimicas, Univ. Nacional de Educacion a Distancia, Paseo Senda del Rey 9, 28040 Madrid, Spain; fperal@ccia.uned.es

Last Update

04.02.03

 

 

Course Title

Philosophy of Chemistry

By

Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent

University

Université Paris X

Country

France

Language

French

Brief Description

The seminar offers three different approaches to chemistry: (1) epistemologic aspects: techniques of proof, language and classification in chemistry, science and technology; (2) ontological aspects: concepts related with philosophy of matter; (3) anthropological aspects; nature and artifice, risks and environment issues.

Course Type

Seminar based on readings

First Offered

Fall semester 2003

Frequency

 

Student Level

graduate

Offered to Students of

humanities

Obligatory/Optional

optional

Course Material

offline

Contact Details

Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent, Département de philosophie, Université Paris X, 92001 Nanterre, FRANCE; Bernadette.bensaude-vincent@u-paris10.fr

Last Update

14.10.03

   
Course Title HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF CHEMISTRY
By José Antonio Chamizo 
University Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Country México
Language Spanish
Brief Description The course uses as a working tool Toulmins’s argumentative grid to have discussions carried out with well-reasoned arguments as possible. From the historical point of view this course considers four types of activities:
1. Reading an introductory text on world history and seminar discussion, after which students begin to the argumentation using Toulmin’s argumentative grid.
2. Lectures given by the teacher. The most frequent themes in two hour sessions, are:
- The division of historical time.
- General aspects of philosophy, then of philosophy of science and finally of philosophy of chemistry.
- Ways of knowing through history. Following Bachelard's epistemological posture on the laminated reality.
- The chemical language and historical context.
- The chemical experiments throughout history.
- History of chemistry in Mexico.
3. Research team on a relevant chemistry personage, reading original texts.
4.Public exposure of research findings.
Course Type Lecture and seminar
First Offered 2007
Frequency Twice per year
Student Level undergraduate
Offered to Students of chemistry
Obligatory/Optional optional
Course Material J.A. Chamizo (ed) Historia y Filosofía de la Química, Siglo XXI, México, 2010, ISBN 978-607-03-0236-7
J.A. Chamizo, Historia Experimental de la Química , UNAM, México, 2009, ISBN 978-607-02-1410-3
Online: http://depa.fquim.unam.mx/SHFQ/Publicaciones.htm
Contact Details José Antonio Chamizo, Facultad de Química, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria 04510 México D.F. jchamizo@unam.mx
Last Update 06.05.12
   


Selection criteria for appropriate courses

We consider courses in any country and any language at the university level.

The scope of philosophy of chemistry courses is broadly understood like the scope of the journal HYLE . We will also consider mixed courses, if philosophy of chemistry is a substantial part. For instance, courses may combine the history and philosophy of chemistry, but philosophy should be a major part. We will not consider courses in general philosophy of science with one or the other example from chemistry, but courses that compare the methods, ideas, theories, development, disciplinary setting, etc. of chemistry with those of physics, biology, and other fields. Similarly, courses about the relation between science and society, ethics of science and technology, and professional ethics should focus on chemistry or chemical technology. We will also not consider introductory courses in quantum chemistry with occasional remarks on the reduction issue, but those which are primarily concerned with reductionism from a philosophical point of view.


How to submit your course description

 Copy the questionaire below and paste it to a Word or TEXT file, complete the questionaire in English, and send it by email attachment to editor@hyle.org
 
COURSES IN PHILOSOPHY OF CHEMISTRY: QUESTIONNAIRE

Course title (in English):

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University:

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Course type: lecture, seminar...

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For which kind of students:

  • graduate / undergraduate 
  • chemistry / humanities 
  • obligatory / optional
Course material available: offline / online (ULR)

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Related Syllabi Sites

History of Chemistry Syllabi (by Peter Ramberg) 

History of Physics Syllabi (Center for History of Physics)


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