Jump to main content
Jump to site search

Issue 3, 2015
Previous Article Next Article

Natural laws and ontological reflections: the textual and didactic implications of the presentation of Boyle's law in general chemistry

Author affiliations

Abstract

This study develops a tool to identify errors in the presentation of natural laws based on the epistemology and ontology of the Scientific Realism of Mario Bunge. The tool is able to identify errors of different types: (1) epistemological, in which the law is incorrectly presented as data correlation instead of as a pattern of causality; (2) semantic, in which natural law is presented as a mathematical statement that relates variables but with an absence of ambiguous material reference; (3) deterministic, in which the relationship of natural variables is presented but with no causality statement; and (4) mechanistic, in which a causality statement is presented with the absence of an explanatory mechanism. In this work, Boyle's law was used as an example of the applicability of the instrument. In this case, we found errors in most of the university textbooks that we analyzed. Most of the errors arose from the disconnection between the symbolic and microscopic levels. The presentations of Boyle's law in general chemistry are given in textbooks that include illustrations based in a macroscopic perspective, in which the macroscopic compression mechanism is completely disconnected from the microscopic collision mechanism. This disconnection results in the incorrect presentation of gas pressure as the cause and gas volume as the effect.

Back to tab navigation

Article information


Submitted
12 Dec 2014
Accepted
05 Jun 2015
First published
05 Jun 2015

Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2015,16, 447-459
Article type
Perspective
Author version available

Natural laws and ontological reflections: the textual and didactic implications of the presentation of Boyle's law in general chemistry

W. Quiroz and C. M. Rubilar, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2015, 16, 447
DOI: 10.1039/C4RP00251B

Social activity

Search articles by author

Spotlight

Advertisements