La formula chimica di struttura: un problema per l’epistemologia popperiana?

Benedetta CappelliniArticoli

Andrea Tontini*, Isonomia
Twentieth-century philosophy of science should be considered as mainly a philosophy of physics, not taking into account the originality and autonomy of chemical knowledge and, consequently, leaving the analysis of this fundamental branch of modern science underdeveloped. This paper begins by studying the constituent elements of the chemistry, thereby highlighting the profound difference between its method and scope and those of physics. The generation of chemical knowledge involves as a primary operation the isolation of elements and compounds and their structural characterization. Structural formulas must be consistent with experimental data from diverse spectroscopic techniques, which vouches for their truthfulness and irrefutability. It is argued that a structure formula is not to be held as an arbitrary intellectual construct possessing high heuristic value, but rather as a definitive, if rudimentary, statement regarding the authentic structure of a molecule, i.e. its atomic frame. This is at odds with Kuhn’s interpretation of scientific activity as well as with Feyerabend’s epistemology. Furthermore, the fact that structural formulas are not liable to falsification appears to contrast with Popperian fallibilism.

Questo lavoro prende le mosse da un intervento tenuto il 14 novembre 2006 nell’ambito del “Ciclo di seminari all’interno del corso di filosofia della scienza 1 del prof. Vincenzo Fano”, che ringrazio per l’invito e per l’interesse per i temi qui trattati.

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*[L’articolo è comparso sulla rivista on line Isonomia dell’istituto di Filosofia “Arturo Massolo”]

* Istituto di chimica farmaceutica e tossicologica, Università di Urbino “Carlo Bo”