Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 541–558 | Cite as

Philosophical problems, cluster concepts, and the many lives of Molyneux’s question

  • Brian R. Glenney


Molyneux’s question, whether the newly sighted might immediately recognize tactilely familiar shapes by sight alone, has produced an array of answers over three centuries of debate and discussion. I propose the first pluralist response: many different answers, both yes and no, are individually sufficient as an answer to the question as a whole. I argue that this is possible if we take the question to be cluster concept of sub-problems. This response opposes traditional answers that isolate specific perceptual features as uniquely applicable to Molyneux’s question and grant viability to only one reply. Answering Molyneux’s question as a cluster concept may also serve as a methodology for resolving other philosophical problems.


Molyneux’s question Blindness Perception Cross-modal transfer Cluster concepts Cataract experiments 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentGordon CollegeWenhamUSA

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