Do molecules have structure in isolation? How models can provide the answer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


I argue that molecules may not have structure in isolation. I support this
by investigating how quantum models identify structure for isolated molecules.
Specifically, I distinguish between two sets of models: those that identify structure
in isolation and those that do not. The former identify structure because they
presuppose structural information about the target system via the Born-
Oppenheimer approximation. However, it is an idealisation to assume structure in
isolation because there is no empirical evidence of this. In fact, whenever structure
is empirically examined it is always partially determined by factors that are absent
in isolation. Together with the growing empirical evidence that isolated molecules
behave in non-classical ways, this shows that the quantum models that do not
identify structure are more faithful representations of isolated molecules.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhilosophical Perspectives on Quantum Chemistry
EditorsOlimpia Lombardi, Sebastian Fortin, Juan Camilo Martínez González
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 30 Nov 2020

Publication series

NameSynthese Library

Structured keywords

  • Centre for Science and Philosophy


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