Molyneux’s question and the semantics of seeing

Berit Brogaard, Bartek Chomanski, Dimitria Electra Gatzia

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The aim of this chapter is to shed new light on the question of what newly sighted subjects are capable of seeing on the basis of previous experience with mind-independent, external objects and their properties through touch alone. A variety of empirical findings on newly sighted individuals have been reported over the past few centuries. One of the most widely discussed empirical inquiries into MQ was conducted by Richard Held and collaborators in 2011. The problem Molyneux raised initially received numerous a priori treatments by various philosophers, including John Locke, George Berkeley, and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. One argument against Held and colleagues’ own interpretation comes from Schwenkler, who points out the experiments failed to establish that the subjects did indeed form “robust” visual representations of shape. In this chapter, the author argue that the current empirical evidence can only provide an answer to MQ once we get clear about the semantics of “seeing.”.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMolyneux’s Question and the History of Philosophy
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9780429671944
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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