UCLA chemistry lecturer Dr. Eric Scerri’s books receive recognition

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Three of chemist & author Eric Scerri’s books are included in the Top 25 Philosophy of Science Books Published in 2016.

The list is published annually by scientist and author Dr. Marc Srour on his blog, bioteaching.com.

In his review of “Essays in the Philosophy of Chemistry”, Srour wrote “The philosophy of chemistry has emerged in recent years as a new and autonomous field within the Anglo-American philosophical tradition. With the development of this new discipline, Eric Scerri and Grant Fisher’s The Philosophy of Chemistry is a timely and definitive guide to all current thought in this field. This edited volume will serve to map out the distinctive features of the field and its connections to the philosophies of the natural sciences and general philosophy of science more broadly. It will be a reference for students and professional alike.”

Regarding “Philosophy of Chemistry: Growth of a New Discipline (Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science)”, Srour wrote: “This volume follows the successful book, which has helped to introduce and spread the Philosophy of Chemistry to a wider audience of philosophers, historians, science educators as well as chemists, physicists and biologists. The introduction summarizes the way in which the field has developed in the ten years since the previous volume was conceived and introduces several new authors who did not contribute to the first edition. The editors are well placed to assemble this book, as they are the editor in chief and deputy editors of the leading academic journal in the field, Foundations of Chemistry. The philosophy of chemistry remains a somewhat neglected field, unlike the philosophy of physics and the philosophy of biology. Why there has been little philosophical attention to the central discipline of chemistry among the three natural sciences is a theme that is explored by several of the contributors. This volume will do a great deal to redress this imbalance. Among the themes covered is the question of reduction of chemistry to physics, the reduction of biology to chemistry, whether true chemical laws exist and causality in chemistry. In addition more general questions of the nature of organic chemistry, biochemistry and chemical synthesis are examined by specialist in these areas.”

In his review of “A Tale of Seven Scientists and a New Philosophy of Science”, Srour wrote: “In his latest book, Eric Scerri presents a completely original account of the nature of scientific progress. It consists of a holistic and unified approach in which science is seen as a living and evolving single organism. Instead of scientific revolutions featuring exceptionally gifted individuals, Scerri argues that the “little people” contribute as much as the “heroes” of science. To do this he examines seven case studies of virtually unknown chemists and physicists in the early 20th century quest to discover the structure of the atom. They include the amateur scientist Anton van den Broek who pioneered the notion of atomic number as well as Edmund Stoner a then physics graduate student who provided the seed for Pauli’s Exclusion Principle. Another case is the physicist John Nicholson who is virtually unknown and yet was the first to propose the notion of quantization of angular momentum that was soon put to good use by Niels Bohr.”

Scerri is an author and editor of several books and a full-time lecturer in the UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He is also the founder and editor-in-chief of the international journal Foundations of Chemistry which covers the history and philosophy of chemistry, and chemical education. He was the historical consultant for the 2015 PBS docudrama Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements in which he is interviewed extensively about the creator of the periodic table, Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev.  

To learn more about Scerri, visit his website.