Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science

Is Water H2O?

Evidence, Realism and Pluralism

Authors: Chang, Hasok

  • Major study in complementary science, seeking to improve scientific knowledge through historical and philosophical investigations
  • A unique layered structure allowing a diverse and multi-level readership
  • A deep philosophical and historical issues discussed by means of the most familiar and basic of substances water
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eBook $54.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-94-007-3932-1
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $259.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-94-007-3931-4
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $69.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-94-007-9646-1
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
About this book

This book exhibits deep philosophical quandaries and intricacies of the historical development of science lying behind a simple and fundamental item of common sense in modern science, namely the composition of water as H2O. Three main phases of development are critically re-examined, covering the historical period from the 1760s to the 1860s: the Chemical Revolution (through which water first became recognized as a compound, not an element), early electrochemistry (by which water’s compound nature was confirmed), and early atomic chemistry (in which water started out as HO and became H2O). In each case, the author concludes that the empirical evidence available at the time was not decisive in settling the central debates and therefore the consensus that was reached was unjustified or at least premature. This leads to a significant re-examination of the realism question in the philosophy of science and a unique new advocacy for pluralism in science. Each chapter contains three layers, allowing readers to follow various parts of the book at their chosen level of depth and detail. The second major study in "complementary science", this book offers a rare combination of philosophy, history and science in a bid to improve scientific knowledge through history and philosophy of science.

Reviews

From the reviews:

“The present book is Hasok Chang’s second book in History and Philosophy of Science. … he takes the example of the discovery of the formula H2O for water. … The jury were very impressed by the overall quality of the book. Excellent scholarly research underpins the historical part of the book, and Hasok Chang develops his philosophical theses with clear and rigorous argumentation. … book will be much discussed in the coming years, and become a central text in the history and philosophy of science.” (Fernando Gil International Prize, fernando-gil.org.pt, February, 2014)

“This book is an exemplary instance of a welcome contemporary trend to produce work that self-consciously attempts to integrate history and philosophy of science. … The history is detailed, acute and informative and the philosophical views defended are challenging. The book is valuable and well worth reading both by those professionally involved in history and philosophy of science and more widely.” (Alan Chalmers, Science & Education, October, 2012)

Table of contents (5 chapters)

  • Water and the Chemical Revolution

    Chang, Hasok

    Pages 1-70

  • Electrolysis: Piles of Confusion and Poles of Attraction

    Chang, Hasok

    Pages 71-131

  • HO or H2O? How Chemists Learned to Count Atoms

    Chang, Hasok

    Pages 133-201

  • Active Realism and the Reality of H2O

    Chang, Hasok

    Pages 203-251

  • Pluralism in Science: A Call to Action

    Chang, Hasok

    Pages 253-301

Buy this book

eBook $54.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-94-007-3932-1
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $259.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-94-007-3931-4
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $69.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-94-007-9646-1
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Is Water H2O?
Book Subtitle
Evidence, Realism and Pluralism
Authors
Series Title
Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science
Series Volume
293
Copyright
2012
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Copyright Holder
Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
eBook ISBN
978-94-007-3932-1
DOI
10.1007/978-94-007-3932-1
Hardcover ISBN
978-94-007-3931-4
Softcover ISBN
978-94-007-9646-1
Series ISSN
0068-0346
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XXI, 316
Number of Illustrations and Tables
45 b/w illustrations
Topics