Reconsidering Explanation: Lessons from Nanosynthesis

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Bursten, Julia R.
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conference paper description
Nanosynthesis forces a reevaluation of received views on scientific explanation. I discuss the synthesis of anisotropic metal nanoparticles, a typical nanosynthesis research program, in order to demonstrate the failure of standard philosophical accounts of explanation to capture the dynamics of information exchange in synthetic sciences. I argue that using the language of effective heuristics, coupled with attention to changes in the meanings of concepts across different length scales, is a more promising means of capturing how information is obtained from the study of nanosynthesis systems.