52 Philosophical Quarterly 602 (2002)
In his Inquiry, Reid claims, against Berkeley, that there is a science of the perspectival shapes of objects (‘visible figures’): they are geometrically equivalent to shapes projected onto the surfaces of spheres. This claim should be understood as asserting that for every theorem regarding visible figures there is a corresponding theorem regarding spherical projections; the proof of the theorem regarding spherical projections can be used to construct a proof of the theorem regarding visible figures, and vice versa. I reconstruct Reid's argument for this claim, and expose its mathematical underpinnings: it is successful, and depends on no empirical assumptions to which he was not entitled about the workings of the human eye. I also argue that, although Reid may or may not have been aware of it, the geometry of spherical projections is not the only geometry of visible figure.
Date of Authorship for this Version
Yaffe, Gideon, "Reconsidering Reid's Geometry of Visibles" (2002). Faculty Scholarship Series. Paper 3723.