The Physicists, the Chemists and the Pragmatics of Explanation

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Hendry, Robin
conference paper description
In this paper I investigate two views of theoretical explanation in quantum chemistry, advocated by John Clarke Slater and Charles Coulson. Slater argued for quantum-mechanical rigour, and the primacy of fundamental principles in models of chemical bonding. Coulson emphasised systematic explanatory power within chemistry, and continuity with existing chemical explanations. I relate these views to the epistemic contexts of their disciplines.