Vol. 7 No. 1 (2023)
Feature Articles

A New Response to Wray and an Attempt to Widen the Conversation

Eric Scerri
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, UCLA, US
Four anomalies in which ordering the elements according to their atomic weights failed to classify a total of eight elements in their correct groups: argon and potassium, cobalt and nickel, telluride and iodine, thorium and protactinium

Published 2022-11-03


  • scientific revolutions,
  • Kuhn,
  • atomic number,
  • philosophy of chemistry,
  • periodic table,
  • isotopes,
  • natural kinds,
  • sense and reference
  • ...More

How to Cite

Scerri, E. (2022). A New Response to Wray and an Attempt to Widen the Conversation. Substantia, 7(1), 35–43. https://doi.org/10.36253/Substantia-1806


This article begins by examining a recent claim by Brad Wray that the discovery of atomic number and isotopy constitutes a scientific revolution in the sense of the later writings of Thomas Kuhn.  I argue that although Kuhn’s criteria may apply to the change from the Ptolemaic to the Copernican model of the universe, they do not apply in the above chemical or atomic case.  I also examine the wider issue of Kuhn’s turning away from internal scientific issues to a consideration of lexical issues.  I conclude, as others have done before me, that this may have been a wrong turn in view of the emphasis being placed on questions of sense rather than reference.


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