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Robin Hendry’s Research Page

For my biography, research interests and current projects, see my staff profile.

Work in progress

  • The Metaphysics of Chemistry: This book sets out a comprehensive realist view of chemistry and its relationship to physics. I argue (i) that chemical substances are collections of molecular species (or ways for such collections to be); (ii) that, from the point of view of chemistry, such ways are individuated by structural relationships within those collections; (iii) that explanatory relationships between physics and chemistry provide the main source of scientific evidence on which to base a view of the ontological relationship between physics and chemistry; and (iv) that on the current evidence, a strongly emergentist view of chemical substances is at least as well supported as a reductionist view of that relationship. I completed a draft of the book, which was accepted for publication by Oxford University Press some time ago. I am currently (slowly) revising the manuscript.
  • Trusting Chemistry: This book examines cases of intellectual humility and hubris in nineteenth-century chemistry. Part one of the book deals with ontic humility and hubris, concerning general and abstract matters that may have no immediate practical significance. Are all substances formed from a finite stock of elements? Is there one type of atom for each chemical element? Do chemical substances have characteristic structures at the molecular scale? Part two of the book turns to chemistry’s public role as (i) an arbiter of purity (e.g. of water) and (ii) as a source of new substances and foodstuffs, many of which were helpful, but some of which turned out to be disastrous.


  • Philosophy of Chemistry (Amsterdam: North-Holland, 2012), co-edited with Paul Needham and Andrea Woody. This is a comprehensive research collection on the philosophy of chemistry, comprising thirty-three articles by philosophers, scientists and historians, on chemists and philosophers from the past, chemical substances, and on the relationship between chemistry and physics.
  • The Routledge Handbook of Emergence (London: Routledge, 2019), co-edited with Sophie Gibb and Tom Lancaster. This collection brings together thirty-two articles by philosophers and scientists examining all aspects of emergence, and candidate cases of it across philosophy of mind, physics and the special sciences.


  1. ‘Science, the vernacular and the qua problem’ in Stephen Biggs and Heimir Geirsson (eds.) The Routledge Handbook on Linguistic Reference (Forthcoming)
  2. ‘Structure, scale and emergence’ Studies in History and Philosophy of Science (Accepted for publication, forthcoming)
  3. ‘Elements and (first) principles in chemistry’ Synthese
  4. ‘Trusting atoms’ in Ugo Zilioli (ed.) Atomism in Philosophy: A History from Antiquity to the Present (London: Bloomsbury, 2020), 470-488
  5. ‘The existence of elements, and the elements of existence’ in Elena Ghibaudi and Eric Scerri (eds.) What is a Chemical Element? (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020), 124-142
  6. ‘Emergence in chemistry: substance and structure’ in S.C. Gibb, R.F. Hendry and T. Lancaster (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Emergence (London: Routledge, 2019), 339-351
  7. (With M. Weisberg and P. Needham) ‘Philosophy of chemistry’ in Ed Zalta (ed.) The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Revised and updated, 2019)
  8. (With Paul Needham) ‘Aspects of the concept of potentiality in chemistry’ in Kristina Engelhard and Michael Quante (eds.) Handbook of Potentiality (Berlin: Springer, 2018), 375-400
  9. ‘Scientific realism and the history of chemistry’ Spontaneous Generations 9 (2018), 108-117
  10. ‘Mechanisms and reduction in organic chemistry’ in M. Massimi, J.W. Romeijn and G. Schurz (eds.) EPSA15 Selected Papers: The 5th Conference of the European Philosophy of Science Association in Düsseldorf (Berlin: Springer, 2017), 111-124
  11. ‘Prospects for strong emergence in chemistry’ in Michele Paolini Paoletti and Francesco Orilia (eds.) Philosophical and Scientific Perspectives on Downward Causation (London: Routledge, 2017), 146-163
  12. ‘Structure as abstraction’ Philosophy of Science 83 (2016), 1070-1081
  13. ‘Natural kinds in chemistry’ in Grant Fisher and Eric Scerri (eds.) Essays in the Philosophy of Chemistry (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 253-75
  14. ‘Immanent philosophy of X’ Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 55 (2016), 36-42
  15. ‘Are chemical kinds natural kinds?’ in Uskali Mäki, Ioannis Votsis and Stéphanie Ruphy (eds.) Recent Developments in Philosophy of Science: EPSA13 Helsinki (Berlin: Springer, 2015), 251-261
  16. ‘The metaphysics of molecular structure’ in Vassilios Karakostas and Dennis Dieks (eds.) Recent Progress in Philosophy of Science: Perspectives and Foundational Problems (Berlin: Springer, 2013), 331-342
  17. ‘Kinetics, models and mechanism’ in Ulrich Gähde, Stephan Hartmann and Jörn Henning Wolf (eds.) Models, Simulations, and the Reduction of Complexity (Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Hamburg, Volume 2) (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2013), 221-227
  18. ‘Three metaphysical issues in chemistry’ in Jean-Pierre Llored (ed.) Philosophy of Chemistry: Practices, Methodologies, and Concepts (Cambridge Scholars’ Press, 2013), 522-539
  19. ‘Chemistry’ (Revised and updated) in M. Curd and S. Psillos (eds.) Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Science, Second Edition (London: Routledge, 2013), 586-596
  20. ‘Chemical substances and the limits of pluralism’ Foundations of Chemistry 14 (2012), 55-68
  21. ‘Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794)’, ‘Linus Pauling (1901-1994)’, ‘Charles Coulson (1910-1974)’, ‘Elements’, ‘Chemical Bond’ and ‘Reduction, Emergence and Physicalism’ in R.F. Hendry, P. Needham and A.I. Woody (eds.) Philosophy of Chemistry (Amsterdam: North-Holland, 2012)
  22. ‘¿Hay causación descendente en química?’ in Davis Baird, Lee McIntyre and Eric Scerri (eds.) Filosofia de la Quimica: Sintesis de una Nueva Disciplina (Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2011)
  23. ‘Philosophy of chemistry’ in Steven French & Juha Saatsi (eds.) The Continuum Companion to the Philosophy of Science (London: Continuum, 2011), 293-313
  24. (With Michael Weisberg and Paul Needham) ‘Philosophy of chemistry’ in Ed Zalta (ed.) The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2011)
  25. ‘Science and everyday life: “Water” vs. “H2O”’ Insights 3 (2010)
  26. ‘Entropy and chemical substance’ Philosophy of Science 77 (2010), 921-932
  27. ‘The chemical bond: structure, energy and explanation’ in Mauro Dorato, Miklós Rèdei and Mauricio Suárez (eds.) EPSA Philosophical Issues in the Sciences: Launch of the European Philosophy of Science Association (Berlin: Springer, 2010), 117-27
  28. ‘Chemistry: emergence vs. reduction’ in Cynthia and Graham Macdonald (eds.) Emergence in Mind (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 205-21
  29. ‘Ontological reduction and molecular structure’ Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 41 (2010), 183-91
  30. ‘The elements and conceptual change’ in Helen Beebee & Nigel Sabbarton-Leary (eds.) The Semantics and Metaphysics of Natural Kinds (London: Routledge, 2010), 137-158
  31. (With Darrell Rowbottom) ‘Dispositional essentialism and the necessity of laws’ Analysis 69 (2009), 668-677
  32. ‘Two conceptions of the chemical bond’ Philosophy of Science 75 (2008), 909-920
  33. ‘Microstructuralism: problems and prospects’ in Klaus Ruthenberg and Jaap van Brakel (eds.) Stuff: The Nature of Chemical Substances (Würzburg: Königshausen und von Neumann, 2008), 107-120
  34. ‘Chemistry’ in M. Curd and S. Psillos (eds.) Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Science (London: Routledge, 2008), 520-530
  35. (With Stathis Psillos) ‘How to do things with theories: an interactive view of language and models in science’ in J. Brzeziński, A. Klawiter, T.A.F. Kuipers, K. Łastowski, K. Paprzycka, and P. Przybysz (eds.), The Courage of Doing Philosophy (Amsterdam/New York, NY: Rodopi, 2007), 59-115
  36. (With Paul Needham) ‘Le Poidevin on the reduction of chemistry’ British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (2007), 339-353
  37. ‘Elements, compounds and other chemical kinds’ Philosophy of Science 73 (2006), 864-875
  38. ‘Substantial confusion’ Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 37 (2006), 322-336
  39. ‘Is there downward causation in chemistry?’ in Davis Baird, Lee McIntyre and Eric Scerri (eds.) Philosophy of Chemistry: Synthesis of a New Discipline, Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science Volume 242 (Dordrecht: Springer, 2006), 173-189
  40. ‘Lavoisier and Mendeleev on the elements’ Foundations of Chemistry 7 (2005), 31-48
  41. ‘The physicists, the chemists and the pragmatics of explanation’ Philosophy of Science 71 (2004), 1048-59
  42. ‘Autonomy, explanation and theoretical values: physicists and chemists on molecular quantum mechanics’ in Joseph Earley (ed.) Chemical Explanation: Characteristics, Development, Autonomy: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 988 (2003), 44-58
  43. ‘Filosofia della chimica’ in N. Vassallo (ed.) Filosofie delle Scienze (Torino: Einaudi, 2003)
  44. ‘Chemistry and the completeness of physics’ in A. Rojszczak, J. Cachro, and G. Kurczewski (eds.) Philosophical Dimensions of Logic and Science (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2003), 165-178
  45. ‘Mathematics, representation and molecular structure’ in Ursula Klein (ed.) Tools and Modes of Representation in the Laboratory Sciences, Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science Volume 222 (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2001), 221-36
  46. ‘Are realism and instrumentalism methodologically indifferent?’ Philosophy of Science 68 (Proceedings) (2001), S25-S37
  47. ‘Molecular models and the question of physicalism’ Hyle 5 (1999), 117-34
  48. ‘Theories and models: the interactive view’ in R. Paton and I. Neilson (eds.) Visual Representations and Interpretations (London: Springer, 1999), 121-30
  49. ‘Models and approximations in quantum chemistry’ in Niall Shanks (ed.) Idealization in Contemporary Physics: Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities 63 (Amsterdam/Atlanta, GA: Rodopi, 1998), 123-42
  50. ‘Quantum mechanics, experiment and disunity’ Philosophia Naturalis 35 (1998), 153-9
  51. ‘Empirical adequacy and the semantic conception of theories’ in T. Childers, P. Kolár and V. Svoboda (eds.) Logica ‘96: Proceedings of the 10th International Symposium (Prague: Filosofia, 1997), 136-50
  52. ‘Realism and progress: why scientists should be realists’ in Roger Fellows (ed.) Philosophy and Technology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 53-72

Short articles

  1. ‘Antoine Lavoisier’ and ‘Linus Pauling’ in Donald M. Borchert (ed.) The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Second Edition (London: Macmillan, 2006)
  2. ‘Mind over matter: Wolfgang Pauli, author of the exclusion principle’ Chemistry in Britain 36 (11), pp.44-6 (November 2000)
  3. Various articles on quantum and classical physics in A. Bullock and S. Trombley (eds.) The New Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought, 3rd Edition (London: Fontana Press, 1999)
  4. (With Nancy Cartwright) ‘Duhem’ and ‘Simplicity’ in T. Honderich (ed.) The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995)
  5. (With Nancy Cartwright and Timothy Childers) ‘Feyerabend’, ‘Lakatos’ and ‘Methodology’ in T. Honderich (ed.) The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995)

Book reviews

  1. John Cornwell, Explanations: Styles of Explanation in Science, reviewed in Metascience 15 (2006), 287-291
  2. Jaap van Brakel, Philosophy of Chemistry, reviewed in Foundations of Chemistry 7 (2005), 187-197
  3. Joseph LaPorte Natural Kinds and Conceptual Change, reviewed in Philosophical Writings 27 (2004), 71-75
  4. W. Newton-Smith (ed.), A Companion to the Philosophy of Science, reviewed in Ambix 50 (2003), 166-7
  5. (With David J. Mossley) J. L. Aronson, R. Harré and E. Cornell Way, Realism Rescued: How Scientific Progress is Possible, reviewed in British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 50 (1999), 175-179
  6. Jed Z. Buchwald, The Creation of Scientific Effects, reviewed in British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 48 (1997), 109-112
  7. H. Collins and T. Pinch, The Golem, reviewed in Public Understanding of Science 3 (1994), 323-324
  8. Richard Healey, The Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics: an Interactive Interpretation, reviewed in Mind 101 (1992), 169-171