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This conference presentation was originally published as:

de Berg, K. (2013, June 19-22). The interaction between facts, ideas, and language in Lavoisier's chemistry practice: The case of the study of the composition of air. Paper presented at the International History, Philosophy, and Science Teaching (IHPST) Group 13th Biennial Conference, Pittsburgh, PA.


030299 Inorganic Chemistry not elsewhere classified| 220206 History and Philosophy of Science (incl. Non-historical Philosophy of Science)| 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy

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According to Lavoisier the physical sciences embody three important ingredients; facts, ideas, and language. Ideas had to be consistent with the facts generated from experiment and observation, and language needed to be precise and reflect the known chemistry of substances. Lavoisier had no time for what he termed theoretical speculation about the fundamental nature of matter and avoided the use of the atomic hypothesis or Aristotle’s elements in his Elements of Chemistry. In the preface to this famous work he claims he has good educational reasons for this position. This paper examines the extent to which Lavoisier kept to this agenda in his famous experiment on the composition of air and the implications of this for chemistry education are considered.


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