Journal Article

Scientific Understanding and Synthetic Design

William Goodwin

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 60, issue 2, pages 271-301
Published in print June 2009 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online March 2009 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI:
Scientific Understanding and Synthetic Design

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One of the indisputable signs of the progress made in organic chemistry over the last two hundred years is the increased ability of chemists to manipulate, control, and design chemical reactions. The technological expertise manifest in contemporary synthetic organic chemistry is, at least in part, due to developments in the theory of organic chemistry. By appealing to a notable chemist's attempts to articulate and codify the heuristics of synthetic design, this paper investigates how understanding theoretical organic chemistry facilitates progress in synthetic organic chemistry. The picture that emerges of how the applications of organic chemistry are grounded in its theory is contrasted with both standard and some more contemporary philosophical accounts of the applications of science. 1



Total Synthesis as Applied Science


Understanding Organic Chemistry


The Heuristics of Synthetic Design


An Example: Longifolene



Journal Article.  13467 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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