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Color Terms

Edited by Alex Byrne (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
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Introductions For short overviews of the competing theories of color, see the introduction to Byrne & Hilbert 1997, Hilbert 1998 and Byrne & Hilbert 2002. For a more substantial introduction see Maund 2008. A useful annotated bibliography is Brogaard 2010.
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  1. Keith Allen (2012). Colour Relationalism, Contextualism, and Self-Locating Contents. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 36:331-350.
    In addressing the metaphysical question of what colours are, a consideration that is commonly appealed to is how colours are represented—typically in perceptual experiences, but also in beliefs and linguistic utterances. Although representations need not accurately reflect the nature of what they represent—indeed, they need not represent anything that actually exists at all—the way colours are represented is often taken to provide at least a defeasible guide to the metaphysics: all else being equal, it seems we should prefer a theory (...)
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  2. M. Anduschus, Albert Newen & Wolfgang Kunne (eds.) (1997). Direct Reference, Indexicality, and Propositional Attitudes. CSLI Press.
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  3. Edward W. Averill (1980). Why Are Colour Terms Primarily Used as Adjectives? Philosophical Quarterly 30 (January):19-33.
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  4. Derek H. Brown (2006). On the Dual Referent Approach to Colour Theory. Philosophical Quarterly 56 (222):96-113.
    A dual referent approach to colour theory maintains that colour names have two intended, equally legitimate referents. For example, one might argue that ‘red’ refers both to red appearances or qualia, and also to the way red objects reflect light, the spectral surface reflectance properties of red things. I argue that normal cases of perceptual relativity can be used to support a dual referent approach, yielding an understanding of colour whose natural extension includes abnormal cases of perceptual relativity. This contrasts (...)
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  5. Roberto Casati (1993). Colour Predicates and Vagueness. Acta Analytica 10 (10):129-134.
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  6. Jonathan Cohen (2007). A Relationalist's Guide to Error About Color Perception. Noûs 41 (2):335–353.
    Color relationalism is the view that colors are constituted in terms of relations to perceiving subjects. Among its explanatory virtues, relation- alism provides a satisfying treatment of cases of perceptual variation. But it can seem that relationalists lack resources for saying that a representa- tion of x’s color is erroneous. Surely, though, a theory of color that makes errors of color perception impossible cannot be correct. In this paper I’ll argue that, initial appearances notwithstanding, relationalism contains the resources to account (...)
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  7. Ian Gold (1999). On Lewis on Naming the Colours. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 77 (3):365-370.
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  8. A. P. Hazen (1999). On Naming the Colours. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 77 (2):224-231.
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  9. Yasmina Jraissati (2013). Proving Universalism Wrong Does Not Prove Relativism Right: Considerations on the Ongoing Color Categorization Debate. Philosophical Psychology (3):1-24.
    For over a century, the question of the relation of language to thought has been extensively discussed in the case of color categorization, where two main views prevail. The relativist view claims that color categories are relative while the universalistic view argues that color categories are universal. Relativists also argue that color categories are linguistically determined, and universalists that they are perceptually determined. Recently, the argument for the perceptual determination of color categorization has been undermined, and the relativist view has (...)
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  10. David Lewis (1997). Naming the Colours. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 75 (3):325-42.
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  11. Mohan Matthen (forthcoming). Unique Hues and Colour Experience. Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Colour.
    In this Handbook entry, I review how colour similarity spaces are constructed, first for physical sources of colour and secondly for colour as it is perceptually experienced. The unique hues are features of one of the latter constructions, due initially to Hering and formalized in the Swedish Natural Colour System. I review the evidence for a physiological basis for the unique hues. Finally, I argue that Tye's realist approach to the unique hues is a mistake.
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  12. Rainer Mausfeld (2003). The Dual Coding of Colour. In Rainer Mausfeld & Dieter Heyer (eds.), Colour Perception: Mind and the Physical World. Oxford University Press. 381--430.
  13. Rainer Mausfeld (1998). Color Perception: From Grassmann Codes to a Dual Code for Object and Illumination Colors. In W. Backhaus, R. Kliegl & J. Werner (eds.), Color Vision. Perspectives from Different Disciplines. De Gruyter.
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  14. Rainer Mausfeld & Dieter Heyer (eds.) (2003). Colour Perception: Mind and the Physical World. Oxford University Press.
    Colour has long been a source of fascination to both scientists and philosophers. In one sense, colours are in the mind of the beholder, in another sense they belong to the external world. Colours appear to lie on the boundary where we have divided the world into 'objective' and 'subjective' events. They represent, more than any other attribute of our visual experience, a place where both physical and mental properties are interwoven in an intimate and enigmatic way. -/- The last (...)
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  15. Vivian Mizrahi (2009). Is Colour Composition Phenomenal? In D. Skusevich & P. Matikas (eds.), Color Perception: Physiology, Processes and Analysis. Nova Science Publishers.
    Most philosophical or scientific theories suppose that colour composition judgments refer to the way colours appear to us. The dominant view is therefore phenomenalist in the sense that colour composition is phenomenally given to perceivers. This paper argues that there is no evidence for a phenomenalist view of colour composition and that a conventionalist approach should be favoured.
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  16. Vivian Mizrahi (2006). Color Objectivism and Color Pluralism. Dialectica 60 (3):283-306.
    Most objectivist and dispositionalist theories of color have tried to resolve the challenge raised by color variations by drawing a distinction between real and apparent colors. This paper considers such a strategy to be fundamentally erroneous. The high degree of variability of colors constitutes a crucial feature of colors and color perception; it cannot be avoided without leaving aside the real nature of color. The objectivist theory of color defended in this paper holds that objects have locally many different objective (...)
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  17. Martine Nida-Rumelin (1997). The Character of Color Predicates: A Phenomenalist View. In M. Anduschus, Albert Newen & Wolfgang Kunne (eds.), Direct Reference, Indexicality, and Propositional Attitudes. CSLI Press.
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  18. Robert Pilat, Colour Names and the Concepts of Colours.
    There is growing body of knowledge about how humans and animals perceive col- ours; we may safely say that both physiology and physics of colour perception are becoming less and less mysterious. Still it doesn't help to solve a philosophical puzzle: What do exactly mean expressions like “perceived red” or “perceived green”? What do perceived colours refer to in the world? There are three problem fields I am touching on in this paper: (i) semantics of colour names, (ii) ontological status (...)
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  19. Peter W. Ross (1997). Trichromacy and the Neural Basis of Color Discrimination. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 20 (2):206-207.
    I take issue with Saunders & van Brakel's claim that neural processes play no interesting role in determining color categorizations. I distinguish an aspect of color categorization, namely, color discrimination, from other aspects. The law of trichromacy describes conditions under which physical properties cannot be discriminated in terms of color. Trichromacy is explained by properties of neural processes.
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  20. Wolfgang Spohn (1997). The Character of Color Predicates: A Materialist View. In M. Anduschus, Albert Newen & Wolfgang Kunne (eds.), Direct Reference, Indexicality, and Propositional Attitudes. CSLI Press.
    where _x_ stands for a visible object and _y_ for a perceiving subject (the reference to a time may be neglected).1 I take here ”character” in the sense of Kaplan (1977) as substantiated by Haas-Spohn (1995 and Chapter 14 in this book)). The point of using Kaplan’s framework is simple, but of utmost importance: It provides a scheme for clearly separating epistemological and metaphysical issues, for specifying how the two domains are related, and for connecting them to questions concerning meaning (...)
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  21. D. J. Srzednicki (1962). Incompatibility Statements. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 40 (August):178-186.
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  22. John Sutton (2001). Review of Don Dedrick, Naming the Rainbow: Colour Language, Colour Science, and Culture. [REVIEW] Philosophy in Review/ Comptes Rendus Philosophiques:106-109.
    By spotlighting the irreducible role of cognitive processes between biology and culture, this synthesis and critique of the universalist tradition in colour science offers a genuine starting-point for all future 'serious inquiry into the relationship between linguistic and non-linguistic aspects of colour classification'.
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