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  • Cited by 15
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    This chapter has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Blumenthal, Geoffrey and Ladyman, James 2017. The development of problems within the phlogiston theories, 1766–1791. Foundations of Chemistry, Vol. 19, Issue. 3, p. 241.

    Mittelstraß, Jürgen 2016. Enzyklopädie Philosophie und Wissenschaftstheorie. p. 74.

    Kinzel, Katherina 2016. The Philosophy of Historical Case Studies. Vol. 319, Issue. , p. 123.

    Blumenthal, Geoffrey 2013. On Lavoisier's Achievement in Chemistry. Centaurus, Vol. 55, Issue. 1, p. 20.

    Ladyman, James 2011. Structural realism versus standard scientific realism: the case of phlogiston and dephlogisticated air. Synthese, Vol. 180, Issue. 2, p. 87.

    McArthur, Daniel James 2011. Discovery, theory change and structural realism. Synthese, Vol. 179, Issue. 3, p. 361.

    Kim, Mi Gyung 2011. From phlogiston to caloric: chemical ontologies. Foundations of Chemistry, Vol. 13, Issue. 3, p. 201.

    Chang, Hasok 2009. We Have Never Been Whiggish (About Phlogiston)1. Centaurus, Vol. 51, Issue. 4, p. 239.

    Labinger, Jay A. and Weininger, Stephen J. 2005. Controversy in Chemistry: How Do You Prove a Negative??The Cases of Phlogiston and Cold Fusion. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Vol. 44, Issue. 13, p. 1916.

    Labinger, Jay A. and Weininger, Stephen J. 2005. Kontroversen in der Chemie: Wie beweist man ein Negativum? - Die Fälle Phlogiston und Kalte Fusion. Angewandte Chemie, Vol. 117, Issue. 13, p. 1950.

    Conlin, Michael F. 1996. Joseph Priestley's American Defense of Phlogiston Reconsidered. Ambix, Vol. 43, Issue. 3, p. 129.

    Chinn, Clark A. and Brewer, William F. 1993. The Role of Anomalous Data in Knowledge Acquisition: A Theoretical Framework and Implications for Science Instruction. Review of Educational Research, Vol. 63, Issue. 1, p. 1.

    Andrus, David Butler, Daylin and Norvell, Wayne 1987. The comparative test in marketing research and theory development. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Vol. 15, Issue. 4, p. 9.

    Gilbert, John K. and Swift, David J. 1985. Towards a lakatosian analysis of the piagetian and alternative conceptions research programs. Science Education, Vol. 69, Issue. 5, p. 681.

    Anderson, Paul F. 1983. Marketing, Scientific Progress, and Scientific Method. Journal of Marketing, Vol. 47, Issue. 4, p. 18.

  • Print publication year: 1976
  • Online publication date: August 2010

Why did oxygen supplant phlogiston? Research programmes in the Chemical Revolution


Imre Lakatos showed how different philosophies of science provide different analytical tools with which to approach the history of science. And he showed how different philosophies of science could be evaluated by seeing how well they account for episodes in the history of science. In this paper I shall reconsider a very famous episode in the history of science, the Chemical Revolution, and argue that Lakatos's methodology of scientific research programmes provides the best account of it. I will first outline the accounts of the Chemical Revolution given by other methodologies, and show that they are unsatisfactory: each of them must either deem the Chemical Revolution an irrational affair or falsify history so that it squares with its canons of rationality. Then I will argue that the actual story of the Chemical Revolution fits Lakatos's methodology like a glove.

We all know that it is easy to find ‘confirmations’ of a scientific theory if you look for them. Similarly, it is easy to find ‘confirmations’ of a methodology if you look for them in the history of science. So perhaps it is worth mentioning that I first become interested in the Chemical Revolution in order to try to refute Lakatos's methodology. The conclusions I have reached about the Chemical Revolution do not square with the preconceptions I had at the outset. And while I have been, and still am, critical of some features of Lakatos's methodology, they are not features which need concern us here.

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Method and Appraisal in the Physical Sciences
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