(28) They also insisted that "the phlogiston
controversy, and the disagreement between, for instance, Priestley and Lavoisier, was not a matter of the 'observation', but of the interpretation of chemical processes." (29) While Toulmin appealed to the criteria of "clarity and simplicity" to establish the "superior merit of Lavoisier's theory," the philosophers of science Alan Musgrave and Phillip Kitcher deployed reconstructionist strategies to identify Lavoisier's discovery of the composition of water in 1784 as the "rational" turning point of the Chemical Revolution.
My point here is that the demise of phlogiston
was a matter of its failure to be horizontally absorbable by a better confirmed, more powerful theoretical account of the very phenomena it had been invoked to explain.
Nevertheless, if we can spray a metaphor, we can use it: Flying beneath an envelope of Phlogiston
, the Montgolfiers were happy suspended in language.
Conant, J.B., 1948, "The Overthrow of the Phlogiston
Theory: The Chemical Revolution of 1775-1789", Harvard Case Histories in Experimental Science, vol.
Science has proven the non-existence of many things in this way, such as phlogiston
, the luminiferous ether, and the planet Vulcan.
Unfortunately, whereas the practice of bloodletting has joined the flat earth, alchemy, and phlogiston
physics in the dustbin of the history of science, protectionism somehow manages to raise its ugly head time and again in America.
would have been that which occupied the phlogiston-role set forth in obsolete chemistry.
I see nothing to distinguish alien abduction--in its high moonshine content--from such other foolishness as astrology, Silva Mind Control (we once had a babysitter who swore she could find a parking place in Harvard Square by focusing her mind), pyramid power, numerology, the orgone box, phlogiston
, Scientology, alchemy and the presence of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts--all of them wacko responses to the normal anxieties of everyday life.
The residual terms, which include 'phlogiston
' and its cognates, as well as 'element' and 'principle', constitute an interdefined cluster not definable within later theory.
ONE of the few things I remember about school physics lessons is being invited to laugh at the discredited belief in an invisible substance called phlogiston
, supposedly released during burning.
On whether Hegel was interested in investigators finding phlogiston
, thinking the atom was the smallest corpuscle of existence, or developing non-Euclidean geometries, we can make two obvious remarks.
(An example of this reduction seems to be Lavoisier's theory of oxidation, which predicts all the phenomena that were observable by the phlogiston