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Summary Inverted spectrum arguments seek to refute physicalism or functionalism about qualia by showing that, even when all the relevant physical (or functional or intentional or behavioural) facts are held constant, the facts about qualia can still vary, and hence that the phenomenal must be over and above the physical (or functional etc.). The argument trades on the widely, though not universally, accepted fact that at least one of our modes of sensation--usually taken to be colour sensation--has at least one axis of symmetry, such that our colour sensations could be inverted along that axis of symmetry while leaving all the relations between those colour sensations unaffected, and so (arguably) leaving unaffected all of our dispositions with respect to those sensations.
Key works The inverted spectrum argument is generally thought to originate with Locke 1979 (Book 2, Chap. XXXII). A seminal modern discussion is Shoemaker 1982, while Block 1990 influentially applies the inverted spectrum argument to intentionalism as well as functionalism. Two representative replies from the internationalist camp are Hilbert & Kalderon 2000 and Tye 2000Horgan 1984 and Putnam 1981 present inverted spectrum arguments against functionalism, while responses include Cole 1990 and Rey 1992.
Introductions Byrne 2004; Nida-Rümelin 1996Chalmers 1995Block 2007
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  1. Keith Allen (2010). Locke and the Nature of Ideas. Archiv fur Geschishte der Philosophie 92 (3):236-255.
    According to Locke, what are ideas? I argue that Locke does not give an account of the nature of ideas. In the Essay, the question is simply set to one side, as recommended by the “Historical, plain Method” that Locke employs. This is exemplified by his characterization of ‘ideas’ in E I.i.8, and the discussion of the inverted spectrum hypothesis in E II.xxxii. In this respect, Locke’s attitude towards the nature of ideas in the Essay is reminiscent of Boyle’s diffident (...)
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  2. Torin Alter, Comments on John Kulvicki's “What is What It's Like?” (2003 Eastern Div. Apa).
    Kulvicki’s goal is to give a representationalist account of what it’s like to see a property that is “fully externalist about perceptual representation” (p. 1) and yet accommodates a certain “internalist intuition” (p. 4), which he describes as follows: “something about what it is like to see a property is internally determined, dependent only on the way one is built from the skin in” (p. 3). He illustrates this intuition with an inverted spectrum case and the manifest-image problem. On his (...)
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  3. Michael Beaton (2009). Qualia and Introspection. Journal of Consciousness Studies 16 (5):88-110.
    The claim that behaviourally undetectable inverted spectra are possible has been endorsed by many physicalists. I explain why this starting point rules out standard forms of scientific explanation for qualia. The modern ‘phenomenal concept strategy’ is an updated way of defending problematic intuitions like these, but I show that it cannot help to recover standard scientific explanation. I argue that Chalmers is right: we should accept the falsity of physicalism if we accept this problematic starting point. I further argue that (...)
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  4. Vincent A. Billock & Brian H. Tsou (2004). Color, Qualia, and Psychophysical Constraints on Equivalence of Color Experience. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (1):164-165.
    It has been suggested that difficult-to-quantify differences in visual processing may prevent researchers from equating the color experience of different observers. However, spectral locations of unique hues are remarkably invariant with respect to everything other than gross differences in preretinal and photoreceptor absorptions. This suggests a stereotyping of neural color processing and leads us to posit that minor differences in observer neurophysiology may be irrelevant to color experience.
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  5. Ned Block (2007). Wittgenstein and Qualia. Philosophical Perspectives 21 (1):73-115.
    (Wittgenstein, 1968) endorsed one kind of inverted spectrum hypothesis and rejected another. This paper argues that the kind of inverted spectrum hypothesis that Wittgenstein endorsed (the "innocuous" inverted spectrum hypothesis) is the thin end of the wedge that precludes a Wittgensteinian critique of the kind of inverted spectrum hypothesis he rejected (the "dangerous" kind). The danger of the dangerous kind is that it provides an argument for qualia, where qualia are (for the purposes of this paper) contents of (...)
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  6. Ned Block (1990). Inverted Earth. Philosophical Perspectives 4:53-79.
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  7. Justin Broackes (2007). Black and White and the Inverted Spectrum. Philosophical Quarterly 57 (227):161-175.
    To the familiar idea of an undetectable spectrum inversion some have added the idea of inverted earth. This new combination of ideas is even harder to make coherent, particularly as it applies to a supposed inversion of black and white counteracted by an environmental switch of these. Black and white exhibit asymmetries in their connections with illumination, shadow and visibility, which rule out their being reversed. And since the most saturated yellow is light and the most saturated blue dark, yellow (...)
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  8. Derek H. Brown (2010). Locating Projectivism in Intentionalism Debates. Philosophical Studies 148 (1):69-78.
    Intentionalism debates seek to uncover the relationship between the qualitative aspects of experience—phenomenal character—and the intentionality of the mind. They have been at or near center stage in the philosophy of mind for more than two decades, and in my view need to be reexamined. There are two core distinct intentionalism debates that are rarely distinguished (Sect. 1). Additionally, the characterization of spectrum inversion as involving inverted qualities and constant intentional content is mistaken (Sect. 3). These confusions can be witnessed (...)
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  9. Alex Byrne, Gert on the Shifted Spectrum.
    As Gert says, the basic claim of representationism is that the phenomenal character of an experience supervenes on its representational content. Restricted to color experience, representationism may be put as follows.
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  10. Alex Byrne, Inverted Qualia. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Qualia inversion thought experiments are ubiquitous in contemporary philosophy of mind (largely due to the influence of Shoemaker 1982 and Block 1990). The most popular kind is one or another variant of Locke's hypothetical case of.
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  11. Alex Byrne (1999). Subjectivity is No Barrier. Brain and Behavioral Sciences 22 (6):949-950.
    Palmer's subjectivity barrier seems to be erected on a popular but highly suspect conception of visual experience, and his color room argument is invalid.
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  12. Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert (2006). Hoffman's "Proof" of the Possibility of Spectrum Inversion. Consciousness and Cognition 15 (1):48-50.
    Philosophers have devoted a great deal of discussion to the question of whether an inverted spectrum thought experiment refutes functionalism. (For a review of the inverted spectrum and its many philosophical applications, see Byrne, 2004.) If Ho?man is correct the matter can be swiftly and conclusively settled, without appeal to any empirical data about color vision (or anything else). Assuming only that color experiences and functional relations can be mathematically represented, a simple mathematical result.
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  13. Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert (1997). Readings on Color, Volume 1: The Philosophy of Color. MIT Press.
  14. Alex Byrne & Michael Tye (2006). Qualia Ain't in the Head. Noûs 40 (2):241-255.
    Qualia internalism is the thesis that qualia are intrinsic to their subjects: the experiences of intrinsic duplicates (in the same or different metaphysically possible worlds) have the same qualia. Content externalism is the thesis that mental representation is an extrinsic matter, partly depending on what happens outside the head.1 Intentionalism (or representationalism) comes in strong and weak forms. In its weakest formulation, it is the thesis that representationally identical experiences of subjects (in the same or different metaphysically (...)
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  15. John Campbell (2003). Philosophy of Mind. In Peter Clark & Katherine Hawley (eds.), Philosophy of Science Today. Oxford University Press. 131.
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  16. Neil Campbell (2004). Generalizing Qualia Inversion. Erkenntnis 60 (1):27-34.
    Philosophers who advocate the possibility of spectrum inversion often conclude that the qualitative content of experiential states pose a serious problem for functionalism. I argue that in order for the inversion hypothesis to support this conclusion one needs to show that it generalizes to all species of qualia. By examining features of touch, taste, and olfactory sensations, I show there is good reason to resist this generalization, in which case appeals to the possibility of spectral inversion are considerably less effective (...)
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  17. Neil Campbell (2000). Physicalism, Qualia Inversion, and Affective States. Synthese 124 (2):239-256.
    I argue that the inverted spectrum hypothesis is nota possibility we should take seriously. The principlereason is that if someone's qualia were inverted inthe specified manner there is reason to believe thephenomenal difference would manifest itself inbehaviour. This is so for two reasons. First, Isuggest that qualia, including phenomenal colours, arepartly constituted by an affective component whichwould be inverted along with the connected qualia. Theresulting affective inversions will, given theintimate connections that exist between emotions andbehaviour, likely manifest themselves in behaviour, (...)
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  18. John V. Canfield (2009). Ned Block, Wittgenstein, and the Inverted Spectrum. Philosophia 37 (4):691-712.
    In ‘Wittgenstein and Qualia’ Ned Block argues for the existence of inverted spectra and those ineffable things, qualia. The essence of his discussion is a would-be proof, presented through a series of pictures, of the possible existence of an inverted spectrum. His argument appeals to some remarks by Wittgenstein which, Block holds, commit the former to a certain ‘dangerous scenario’ wherein inverted spectra, and consequently qualia live and breath. I hold that a key premise of this proof is incoherent. Furthermore, (...)
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  19. Roberto Casati (1990). What is Wrong in Inverting Spectra? Teoria 10:183-6.
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  20. Paul M. Churchland & Patricia S. Churchland (1981). Functionalism, Qualia and Intentionality. Philosophical Topics 12 (1):121-32.
  21. Austen Clark, Inversions Spectral and Bright: Comments on Melinda Campbell.
    Spectrum inversion is a thought experiment, and I would wager that there is no better diagnostic test to the disciplinary affiliation of a randomly selected member of the audience than your reaction to a thought experiment. It is a litmus test. If you find that you are paying close attention, subvocalizing objections, and that your heart-rate and metabolism go up, you have turned pink: you are a philosopher. If on the other hand the thought experiment leaves you cold, and you (...)
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  22. Austen Clark, A Subjectivist Reply to Spectrum Inversion.
    Subjectivists hold that you cannot specify color kinds without implicitly or explicitly referring to the dispositions of observers. Even though "yellow" is ascribed to physical items, and presumably there is something physical in each such item causing it to be so characterized, the only physical similarity between all such items is that they all affect an observer in the same way. So the principles organizing the colors are all found within the skin.
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  23. Austen Clark (1985). Spectrum Inversion and the Color Solid. Southern Journal of Philosophy 23 (4):431-43.
    The possibility that what looks red to me may look green to you has traditionally been known as "spectrum inversion." This possibility is thought to create difficulties for any attempt to define mental states in terms of behavioral dispositions or functional roles. If spectrum inversion is possible, then it seems that two perceptual states may have identical functional antecedents and effects yet differ in their qualitative content. In that case the qualitative character of the states could not be functionally defined.
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  24. Jonathan Cohen (2001). Color, Content, and Fred: On a Proposed Reductio of the Inverted Spectrum Hypothesis. Philosophical Studies 103 (2):121-144.
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  25. David J. Cole, Inverted Spectrum Arguments.
    Formerly a spectral apparition that haunted behaviorism and provided a puzzle about our knowledge of other minds, the inverted spectrum possibility has emerged as an important challenge to functionalist accounts of qualia. The inverted spectrum hypothesis raises the possibility that two individuals might think and behave in the same way yet have different qualia. The traditional supposition is of an individual who has a subjective color spectrum that is inverted with regard to that had by other individuals. When he looks (...)
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  26. David J. Cole (1990). Functionalism and Inverted Spectra. Synthese 82 (2):207-22.
    Functionalism, a philosophical theory, has empirical consequences. Functionalism predicts that where systematic transformations of sensory input occur and are followed by behavioral accommodation in which normal function of the organism is restored such that the causes and effects of the subject's psychological states return to those of the period prior to the transformation, there will be a return of qualia or subjective experiences to those present prior to the transform. A transformation of this type that has long been of philosophical (...)
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  27. Allin Cottrell (1995). Tertium Datur? Reflections on Owen Flanagan's Consciousness Reconsidered. Philosophical Psychology 8 (1):85-103.
    Owen Flanagan's arguments concerning qualia constitute an intermediate position between Dennett's “disqualification” of qualia and the thesis that qualia represent an insurmountable obstacle to constructive naturalism. This middle ground is potentially attractive, but it is shown to have serious problems. This is brought out via consideration of several classic areas of dispute connected with qualia, including the inverted spectrum, Frank Jackson's thought experiment, Hindsight, and epiphenomenalism. An attempt is made to formulate the basis for a less vulnerable variant on the (...)
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  28. Steven Davis (ed.) (2000). Vancouver Studies in Cognitive Science. New York: Oxford University Press.
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  29. Daniel C. Dennett (1999). Swift and Enormous. Brain and Behavioral Sciences 22 (6).
    As a lefthanded person, I can wonder whether I am a left-hemisphere-dominant speaker or a right-hemisphere-dominant speaker or something mixed, and the only way I can learn the truth is by submitting myself to objective, Athird-person@ testing. I don =t Ahave access to @ this intimate fact about how my own mind does its work. It escapes all my attempts at introspective detection, and might, for all I know, shunt back and forth every few seconds without my being any the (...)
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  30. Daniel C. Dennett (1994). Instead of Qualia. In Antti Revonsuo & Matti Kamppinen (eds.), Consciousness in Philosophy and Cognitive Neuroscience. Lawrence Erlbaum.
    Philosophers have adopted various names for the things in the beholder (or properties of the beholder) that have been supposed to provide a safe home for the colors and the rest of the properties that have been banished from the "external" world by the triumphs of physics: "raw feels", "sensa", "phenomenal qualities" "intrinsic properties of conscious experiences" "the qualitative content of mental states" and, of course, "qualia," the term I will use. There are subtle differences in how these terms (...)
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  31. Jason Ford (2011). Tye-Dyed Teleology and the Inverted Spectrum. Philosophical Studies 156 (2):267-281.
    Michael Tye’s considered position on visual experience combines representationalism with externalism about color, so when considering spectrum inversion, he needs a principled reason to claim that a person with inverted color vision is seeing things incorrectly. Tye’s responses to the problem of the inverted spectrum ( 2000 , in: Consciousness, color, and content, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA and 2002a , in: Chalmers (ed.) Philosophy of mind: classical and contemporary readings, Oxford University Press, Oxford) rely on a teleological approach to (...)
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  32. Bernard Gert (1965). Imagination and Verifiability. Philosophical Studies 16 (3):44-47.
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  33. Carl Ginet (1999). Qualia and Private Language. Philosophical Topics 26 (1/2):121-38.
  34. C. L. Hardin (1997). Reinverting the Spectrum. In Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert (eds.), Readings on Color, Volume 1: The Philosophy of Color. Mit Press. 5--99.
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  35. C. L. Hardin (1991). Reply to Levine's 'Cool Red'. Philosophical Psychology 4:41-50.
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  36. C. L. Hardin (1988). Color for Philosophers. Hackett.
    This expanded edition of C L Hardin's ground-breaking work on colour features a new chapter, 'Further Thoughts: 1993', in which the author revisits the dispute ...
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  37. C. L. Hardin (1987). Qualia and Materialism: Closing the Explanatory Gap. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 48 (December):281-98.
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  38. C. L. Hardin & W. J. Hardin (2006). A Tale of Hoffman. Consciousness and Cognition 15 (1):46-47.
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  39. Bernard Harrison (1973). Form and Content. Blackwell.
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  40. Bernard Harrison (1967). On Describing Colors. Inquiry 10 (1-4):38-52.
    This paper attempts to refute the familiar sceptical argument based upon the theoretical possibility of systematic transpositions of colours in different observers? colour?vision. The force of this argument lies in its apparent demonstration that cases of transposed colour?vision would be on a quite different cognitive footing from ordinary cases of colour?blindness; since colour transposition, unlike colour?blindness, could not possibly have any effect on the use of language by a person who suffered from it. It is argued (1) that this demonstration (...)
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  41. J. Harvey (1979). Systematic Transposition of Colours. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 57 (September):211-19.
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  42. Gary Hatfield (1992). Color Perception and Neural Encoding: Does Metameric Matching Entail a Loss of Information? Philosophy of Science Association 1992:492-504.
    It seems intuitively obvious that metameric matching of color samples entails a loss of information, for spectrophotometrically diverse materials appear the same. This intuition implicitly relies on a conception of the function of color vision and on a related conception of how color samples should be individuated. It assumes that the function of color vision is to distinguish among spectral energy distributions, and that color samples should be individuated by their physical properties. I challenge these assumptions by articulating a different (...)
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  43. Benj Hellie (forthcoming). Love in the Time of Cholera. In Berit Brogaard (ed.), Does Perception Have Content? Oxford UP.
    We begin with a theory of the structure of sensory consciousness; a target phenomenon of 'presentation' can be clearly located within this structure. We then defend the rational-psychological necessity of presentation. We conclude with discussion of these philosophical challenges to the possibility of presentation. One crucial aspect of the discussion is recognition of the <cite>nonobjectivity</cite> of consciousness (a technical appendix explains what I mean by that). The other is a full-faced stare at the limitations of rational psychology: much of the (...)
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  44. David R. Hilbert & Mark Eli Kalderon (2000). Color and the Inverted Spectrum. In Steven Davis (ed.), Vancouver Studies in Cognitive Science. New York: Oxford University Press. 187-214.
    If you trained someone to emit a particular sound at the sight of something red, another at the sight of something yellow, and so on for other colors, still he would not yet be describing objects by their colors. Though he might be a help to us in giving a description. A description is a representation of a distribution in a space (in that of time, for instance).
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  45. Donald D. Hoffman (2006). The Scrambling Theorem: A Simple Proof of the Logical Possibility of Spectrum Inversion. Consciousness and Cognition 15 (1):31-45.
  46. Donald D. Hoffman (2006). The Scrambling Theorem Unscrambled: A Response to Commentaries. Consciousness and Cognition 15 (1):51-53.
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  47. Terence E. Horgan (1984). Functionalism, Qualia, and the Inverted Spectrum. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 44 (June):453-69.
  48. Bredo C. Johnsen (1993). The Intelligibility of Spectrum Inversion. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 23 (4):631-6.
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  49. Bredo C. Johnsen (1986). The Inverted Spectrum. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 64 (December):471-6.
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  50. Mark Kalderon, Color and the Inverted Spectrum.
    If you trained someone to emit a particular sound at the sight of something red, another at the sight of something yellow, and so on for other colors, still he would not yet be describing objects by their colors. Though he might be a help to us in giving a description. A description is a representation of a distribution in a space (in that of time, for instance).
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