Authors
Holger Lyre
Otto von Guericke Universität, Magdeburg
Abstract
Did Goethe devise an empirically viable theory of classical ray optics? Or can we at least make use of his ideas to propose one? And if so, does this confront us with an intriguing case of theory underdetermination? In this paper, which is mainly a comment on the recent work of Olaf Müller, I shall address these three questions and argue for ‘no, yes, no’. This is in contrast to Müller, who has recently launched a vivid defense of Goethe-style ray optics :569–573, 2015b; Z Philos Forsch 69:588–598, 2015c; Br J Hist Philos 24:322–346, 2016). Müller aims to give an almost positive answer to all three questions: ‘perhaps, yes, yes’. My overall line of argument will be that the rather restricted regime of classical geometrical optics of spectral colors allows at best for a weak form of transient theory underdetermination that, in turn and more straightforwardly, also allows for a structuralist reading in terms of two structurally equivalent formulations of one and the same theory. However, extending any of the rivaling models of ray optics other than Newton’s beyond the mentioned regime and embedding them into physics in total—especially in view of thermodynamics—leads to a contradiction. Hence, Newton’s theory is confirmed as the only consistent theoretical interpretation of ray optics.
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DOI 10.1007/s10838-017-9392-x
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References found in this work BETA

Is Structural Underdetermination Possible?Holger Lyre - 2011 - Synthese 180 (2):235 - 247.
Underdetermination and Provability: A Reply to Olaf Müller.Timm Lampert - 2017 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 25 (2):389-400.
Wohin fliegt die Eule der Minerva? Über die Verkehrung von Licht und Finsternis.Brigitte Falkenburg - 2015 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 69 (4):574-580.

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Citations of this work BETA

Goethe’s Polarity of Light and Darkness.Olaf Müller - 2018 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 49 (4):581-598.
Colour, Wavelength and Turbidity in the Light of Goethe’s Colour Studies.Gopi Krishna Vijaya - 2020 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 51 (4):569-594.

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Underdetermination and Provability: A Reply to Olaf Müller.Timm Lampert - 2017 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 25 (2):389-400.
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Leonardo, Optics and Ophthalmology.Dominique Raynaud - 2013 - In F. Fiorani & A. Nova (eds.), Leonardo da Vinci and Optics. Marsilio. pp. 255-276.

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