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Color

Edited by Alex Byrne (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
About this topic
Summary The central issue in the philosophy of color concerns the nature of colors—for instance, whether they are physical properties of some sort—and whether ordinary objects like tomatoes and lemons really are colored. Color serves as a relatively tractable test case for a variety of issues in the philosophy of perception, epistemology, and metaphysics.
Key works Perhaps the most influential recent book on the general topic of color is Hardin 1988. Other important books are Stroud 2000 and Cohen 2009. A collection of central papers in the philosophy of color is Byrne & Hilbert 1997; Byrne & Hilbert 1997 is a companion volume on color science.
Introductions For short overviews of the competing theories of color, see the introduction to Byrne & Hilbert 1997, Byrne & Hilbert 2002 and Pautz 2009. For a more substantial introduction see Maund 2008. A useful annotated bibliography is Brogaard 2010.
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  1. Zahra Abdollah (2011). Color in Islamic Theosophy. Journal of Islamic Philosophy 7:35-51.
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  2. Barbara Abou-El-Haj (2011). Kathleen Ashley and Marilyn Deegan, Being a Pilgrim: Art and Ritual on the Medieval Routes to Santiago. Farnham, Eng., and Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2009. Pp. 264; Color Frontispiece, Many Black-and-White and Color Figures, and Color Maps. $60. [REVIEW] Speculum 86 (1):157-159.
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  3. I. Abramov & J. Gordon (1997). Constraining Color Categories: The Problem of the Baby and the Bath Water. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 20 (2):179-180.
    No crucial experiment demonstrates that four hue categories are needed to describe color appearance. Instead, converging lines of evidence suggest that the terms red, yellow, green, and blue are sufficient and precise enough for deriving color discrimination functions and for a useful model constraining relations between color appearance and neuronal responses. Such a model need not be based on linguistic universals. Until something better is available, this holds.
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  4. Peter Adamson (2006). Vision, Light and Color in Al-Kindi, Ptolemy and the Ancient Commentators. Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 16 (2):207-236.
    Al-Kindi was influenced by two Greek traditions in his attempts to explain vision, light and color. Most obviously, his works on optics are indebted to Euclid and, perhaps indirectly, to Ptolemy. But he also knew some works from the Aristotelian tradition that touch on the nature of color and vision. Al-Kindi explicitly rejects the Aristotelian account of vision in his De Aspectibus, and adopts a theory according to which we see by means of a visual ray emitted from the eye. (...)
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  5. K. A. Akins & M. Hahn (2014). More Than Mere Colouring: The Role of Spectral Information in Human Vision. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (1):125-171.
    A common view in both philosophy and the vision sciences is that, in human vision, wavelength information is primarily ‘for’ colouring: for seeing surfaces and various media as having colours. In this article we examine this assumption of ‘colour-for-colouring’. To motivate the need for an alternative theory, we begin with three major puzzles from neurophysiology, puzzles that are not explained by the standard theory. We then ask about the role of wavelength information in vision writ large. How might wavelength information (...)
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  6. Kathleen Akins & Martin Hahn (2000). Color Perception: Philosophical, Psychological, Artistic, and Computational Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press.
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  7. Kathleen Akins & Martin Hahn (2000). The Peculiarity of Color. In Color Perception: Philosophical, Psychological, Artistic, and Computational Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press.
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  8. Miri Albahari (1999). Objective Colours and Evolutionary Value: A Reply to Dedrick. Dialogue 38 (01):99-108.
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  9. Virgil C. Aldrich (1952). Colors as Universals. Philosophical Review 61 (3):377-381.
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  10. Lg Allan, S. Siegel & G. Macqueen (1987). Color Contingent on Words. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 25 (5):339-339.
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  11. Norm R. Allen Jr (2013). The “Color” of Humanism: Personal Reflections on a Global Reality. Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism 20 (1):31-38.
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  12. Grant Allen (1878). Development of the Sense of Colour. Mind 3 (9):129-132.
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  13. Keith Allen (2012). Colour, Contextualism, and Self-Locating Contents. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 12 (3):331-350.
    This paper considers two accounts of the way that colours are represented in perception, thought, and language that are consistent with relationalist theories of colour: Jonathan Cohen’s contextualist semantics for colour ascriptions, and Andy Egan’s suggestion that colour ascriptions have self-locating contents. I argue that colours are not represented in perception, thought, or language as mind-dependent relational properties.
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  14. Sarah R. Allred & Jonathan I. Flombaum (forthcoming). Relating Color Working Memory and Color Perception. Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
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  15. Mary Almack & G. F. Arps (1916). On Color Induction with Reference to Color Recognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology 1 (5):426.
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  16. M. Almeida & Lucky Libertarianism (2003). Jonathan Cohen/Color: A Functionalist Proposal 1–42 Ray Buchanan/Are Truth and Reference Quasi-Disquotational? 43–75 Matthew Davidson/Presentism and the Non-Present 77–92. [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 113:291-292.
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  17. Kirk Ambrose (2013). Alain Mercier, La deuxième fille de Cluny: Grandeurs et misères de Saint-Martin-des-Champs. Grenoble: Glénat, 2012. Pp. 576; many color figures. €59. ISBN: 9782355450082. [REVIEW] Speculum 88 (4):1128-1130.
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  18. Tiffany M. B. Anderson (2013). Alice Walker – The Color Purple: A Reader's Guide to Essential Criticism. The European Legacy 18 (3):371-372.
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  19. Denise Angers (1985). Noël Coulet, Alice Planche, and Françoise Robin, Le Roì René: Le Prince, le Mécène, l'Écrivain, le Mythe. Aix-En-Provence: Edisud, 1982. Pp. 246; 72 Illustrations (11 in Color). F 125. [REVIEW] Speculum 60 (1):219-220.
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  20. Gabriele Anndea (2002). The Simple View of Colours and the Reference of Perceptual Terms. Philosophy 77 (01):87-108.
    This essay deals with the problem of the status of colours, traditionally considered as the paradigmatic case of secondary qualities: do colours exist only as aspects of experience or are they real properties of objects, existing independently of human and animal perception? Recently, John Campbell has argued in favour of the simple view of colours, according to which colours are real properties of objects. I discuss the place of Campbell's position in a debated which was started by John Mackie and (...)
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  21. David M. Armstrong (1993). Reply to Campbell. In John Bacon, Keith Campbell & Lloyd Reinhardt (eds.), Ontology, Causality and Mind: Essays in Honour of D M Armstrong. New York: Cambridge University Press.
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  22. Valtteri Arstila (2010). Color Eliminativism and Intuitions About Colors. Rivista di Estetica 50 (43):29-45.
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  23. B. M. Arthadeva (1961). Naive Realism and the Problem of Color-Seeing in Dim Light. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 21 (June):467-478.
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  24. Edward W. Averill (2005). Toward a Projectivist Account of Color. Journal of Philosophy 102 (5):217-34.
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  25. Edward W. Averill (1985). Color and the Anthropocentric Problem. Journal of Philosophy 82 (June):281-303.
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  26. Edward Wilson Averill (2003). Perceptual Variation and Access to Colors. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26 (1):22-22.
    To identify the set of reflectances that constitute redness, the authors must first determine which surfaces are red. They do this by relying on widespread agreement among us. However, arguments based on the possible ways in which humans would perceive colors show that mere widespread agreement among us is not a satisfactory way to determine which surfaces are red.
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  27. Edward Wilson Averill & Allan Hazlett (2011). Color Objectivism and Color Projectivism. Philosophical Psychology 24 (6):751 - 765.
    Objectivism and projectivism are standardly taken to be incompatible theories of color. Here we argue that this incompatibility is only apparent: objectivism and projectivism, properly articulated so as to deal with basic objections, are in fundamental agreement about the ontology of color and the phenomenology of color perception.
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  28. Jere L. Bacharach (2009). Emmanuel Azzopardi, Coinage of the Crusaders and the World of Islam. Main Photography and Design by Daniel Cilia. Sta. Venera, Malta: Midsea Books, 2006. Pp. 304; Many Black-and-White and Color Figures, 8 Color Plates, and Color Maps. $156. Distributed by the David Brown Book Company, PO Box 511, 28 Main St., Oakville, CT 06779. [REVIEW] Speculum 84 (1):112-113.
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  29. John Bacon, Keith Campbell & Lloyd Reinhardt (eds.) (1993). Ontology, Causality and Mind: Essays in Honour of D M Armstrong. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  30. Victoria K. Ball (1965). The Aesthetics of Color: A Review of Fifty Years of Experimentation. [REVIEW] Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 23 (4):441-452.
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  31. Tomasz Basiuk (2013). Guest Editor's Introduction. Dialogue and Universalism 20 (5/6):5-8.
    Since our visual perception of physical things essentially involves our identifying objects by their colours, any theory of visual perception must contain some account of the colours of things. The central problem with colour has to do with relating our normal, everyday colour perceptions to what science, i.e. physics, teaches us about physical objects and their qualities. Although we perceive colours as categorical surface properties of things, colour perceptions are explained by introducing physical properties like reflectance profiles or dispositions to (...)
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  32. Pilar Fernández Beites (1999). Fenomenología del color. El problema de las sensaciones visuales. Escritos de Filosofía 18 (35):262-284.
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  33. Elena Bellomo (2006). Barbara Frale, I Templari. (Intersezioni, 267.) Bologna: Il Mulino, 2004. Paper. Pp. 193 Plus Color Plates. €11.50. Speculum 81 (1):188-189.
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  34. Tony Belpaeme (2008). Insights From the Colour Category Controversy. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 31 (1):75-76.
    There are striking parallels between the basic tastes debate and the debate on human colour categorisation. Colour categories show a remarkable cross-cultural similarity, but at the same the time exhibit seemingly inexplicable large interpersonal variations. Recent results suggest that colour categories are the result of cultural learning constrained by the neural substrate of colour perception.
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  35. Andrew benjamin (2003). Lines and Colours. Angelaki 8 (1):27 – 41.
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  36. Adelaide Bennett (2010). The Holkham Bible Picture Book: A Facsimile. Commentary by Michelle P. Brown. London: British Library, 2007. Pp. Iv, 91 Plus 20 Color Figures and 43 Color Folios. $125. Distributed in North America by the David Brown Book Co., PO Box 511, 28 Main St., Oakville, CT 06779. [REVIEW] Speculum 85 (1):147-149.
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  37. Philip J. Benson (1999). Color: How You See It, When You Don't. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (6):945-946.
    It is worth considering whether particular behavioral measures from observers are ever consciously (or preattentively) transformed a priori so as to render inferences about them indistinguishable. This is unlikely, but recent experiments indicating color sensitivity and selectivity without visual awareness suggest that the distinction between what can and cannot be explained about color experience using behavioral responses may not be as obvious as Palmer concluded.
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  38. Ondřej Beran (2012). 'Basic Color Categories' in the Language-Game Perspective. Organon F 19 (4):423-443.
    In this paper I will discuss some interesting philosophical questions bound to color science, in its variant founded by Berlin and Kay’s linguistic and anthropological research. I will first refer to various criticisms, expressed by dissenting scientists. Further criticisms implied by a rather philosophical perspective will follow; a particular attention is paid to the question of synchronicity vs . diachronicity. The controversy about Berlin and Kay’s conception is paralleled by the development of Wittgenstein’s views on color that I will sketch (...)
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  39. Laura Berchielli (1995). Representing Color: Discussions and Problems. In Bilder Im Geiste. Amsterdam: Rodopi.
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  40. Brent Berlin & Paul Kay (1999). Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution. Center for the Study of Language and Inf.
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  41. A. E. Best (1968). The Discovery of the Mechanism of Colour-Changes in the Chameleon. Annals of Science 24 (2):147-167.
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  42. John Bigelow & Robert Pargetter (1990). Colouring in the World. Mind 99 (394):279-88.
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  43. David Bimler (2005). Intimations of Optimality: Extensions of Simulation Testing of Color-Language Hypotheses. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (4):489-490.
    By emphasizing that color categories are the collective achievement of a language community, the methodology of Steels & Belpaeme (S&B) suggests a number of corollaries. It focuses attention on whether a system of categories is optimized to match color experience. If a hypothesis can be operationalized about the nature of the optimality – about how color language becomes standardized – it becomes testable.
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  44. Margaret Boden (1991). Horses of a Different Color. In William Ramsey, Stephen P. Stich & D. M. Rumelhart (eds.), Philosophy and Connectionist Theory. Lawrence Erlbaum. 3--19.
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  45. D'A. J. D. Boulton (2010). Claude Berguerand, Le Duel d'Othon de Grandson (1397): Mort d'Un Chevalier-Poète Vaudois À la Fin du Moyen Âge. (Cahiers Lausannois d'Histoire Médiévale, 45.) Lausanne: Section d'Histoire, Université de Lausanne, 2008. Paper. Pp. V, 238; 2 Color Figures, 4 Color Illustrations, and 4 Tables. [REVIEW] Speculum 85 (4):933-934.
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  46. Peter Bradley (2008). Constancy, Categories and Bayes: A New Approach to Representational Theories of Color Constancy. Philosophical Psychology 21 (5):601 – 627.
    Philosophers have long sought to explain perceptual constancy—the fact that objects appear to remain the same color, size and shape despite changes in the illumination condition, perspective and the relative distance—in terms of a mechanism that actively categorizes variable stimuli under the same pre-formed conceptual categories. Contemporary representationalists, on the other hand, explain perceptual constancy in terms of a modular mechanism that automatically discounts variation in the visual field to represent the stable properties of objects. In this paper I argue (...)
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  47. D. H. Brainard (2001). Color Vision Theory. In N. J. Smelser & B. Baltes (eds.), International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. 4--2256.
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  48. Brooke O. Breaux & Michele I. Feist (2008). The Color of Similarity. In B. C. Love, K. McRae & V. M. Sloutsky (eds.), Proceedings of the 30th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Cognitive Science Society. 253--258.
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  49. Geoffrey Brennan, Robert E. Goodin & Michael A. Smith (eds.) (2007). Common Minds: Themes From the Philosophy of Philip Pettit. Oxford University Press.
    During a career spanning over thirty years Philip Pettit has made seminal contributions in moral philosophy, political philosophy, philosophy of the social sciences, philosophy of mind and action, and metaphysics. The corpus of work Pettit has contributed and stimulated is all the more remarkable because of the way in which Pettit and his circle adapt lessons learned when thinking about problems in one area of philosophy to problems in a completely different area. -/- Common Minds presents specially written papers by (...)
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  50. C. R. Brian & F. L. Goodenough (1929). The Relative Potency of Color and Form Perception at Various Ages. Journal of Experimental Psychology 12 (3):197.
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