Underdetermination and provability: a reply to Olaf Müller

Authors
Timm Lampert
Humboldt-University, Berlin
Abstract
Newton claims to have proven the heterogeneity of light through his experimentum crucis. However, Olaf Müller has worked out in detail Goethe’s idea that one could likewise prove the heterogeneity of darkness by inverting Newton’s famous experiment. Müller concludes that this invalidates Newton’s claim of proof. Yet this conclusion only holds if the heterogeneity of light and the heterogeneity of darkness is logically incompatible. This paper shows that this is not the case. Instead, in Quine’s terms, we have two logically compatible theories based on mutually irreducible theoretical terms. From a Quinean point of view, this does no harm to the provability of the corresponding statements.
Keywords Newton  Underdetermination  Quine  Philosophy of Science  Experimentum Crucis
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DOI 10.1080/09608788.2016.1255177
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Theory-Containment in Controversies: Neurath and Müller on Newton, Goethe, and Underdetermination.Gábor Zemplén - 2018 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 49 (4):533-549.
Newton, Goethe and the Alleged Underdetermination of Ray Optics.Holger Lyre - 2018 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 49 (4):525-532.

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