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Theories of Color, Misc

Edited by Alex Byrne (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
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  1. Keith Allen (2007). The Mind-Independence of Colour. European Journal of Philosophy 15 (2):137–158.
    The view that the mind-dependence of colour is implicit in our ordinary thinking has a distinguished history. With its origins in Berkeley, the view has proved especially popular amongst so-called ‘Oxford’ philosophers, proponents including Cook Wilson (1904: 773-4), Pritchard (1909: 86-7), Ryle (1949: 209), Kneale (1950: 123) and McDowell (1985: 112). Gareth Evans’s discussion of secondary qualities in “Things Without the Mind” is representative of this tradition. It is his version of the view that I consider in this paper.
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  2. Edward W. Averill (1992). The Relational Nature of Color. Philosophical Review 101 (3):551-88.
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  3. Justin Broackes (2010). What Do the Colour-Blind See? In Jonathan D. Cohen & Mohan Matthen (eds.), Color Ontology and Color Science. Mit Press. 291.
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  4. Berit Brogaard, Perspectival Truth and Color Perception.
    Perspectivalism is a semantic theory according to which the contents of utterances and mental states (perhaps of a particular kind) have a truth-value only relative to a particular perspective (or standard) determined by the context of the speaker or bearer of the mental state. I have defended this view for epistemic terms, moral terms and predicates of personal taste elsewhere (Brogaard 2008a, 2008b, forthcoming). The main aim of this paper is to defend perspectivalism about color perception and color discourse. The (...)
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  5. Berit Brogaard (2010). Color. In Oxford Annotated Bibliographies Online.
    The nature of the colors—what they are like, whether they are instantiated by objects or are projected by our minds, whether their nature is revealed to us in color perception, and whether there could be alien colors (e.g. reddish-green)—has been one of the central topics in philosophy for centuries. This entry focuses on the contemporary philosophical debate about the nature of the colors.
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  6. 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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  7. Alex Byrne, Colour Vision, Philosophical Issues About.
    The primary issues concern whether objects have colours, and what sorts of properties the colours are. Some philosophers hold that nothing is coloured, others that colour are powers to affect perceivers, and others that colours are physical properties.
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  8. Alex Byrne (2006). Comments on Cohen, Mizrahi, Maund, and Levine. Dialectica 60:223-44.
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  9. Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert (2002). Philosophical Issues About Colour Vision. In L. Nagel (ed.), Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. Macmillan.
    The primary issues concern whether objects have colours, and what sorts of properties the colours are. Some philosophers hold that nothing is coloured, others that colour are powers to affect perceivers, and others that colours are physical properties.
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  10. Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert (1997). Readings on Color, Volume 1: The Philosophy of Color. MIT Press.
  11. Austen Clark (1998). Color Perception (in 3000 Words). In George Graham & William Bechtel (eds.), A Companion to Cognitive Science. Blackwell.
    A neighbor who strikes it rich evokes both admiration and envy, and a similar mix of emotions must be aroused in many neighborhoods of cognitive science when the residents look at the results of research in color perception. It provides what is probably the most widely acknowledged success story of any domain of scientific psychology: the success, against all expectation, of the opponent process theory of color perception. Initially proposed by a Ewald Hering, a nineteenth century physiologist, it drew its (...)
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  12. Jonathan Cohen (web). Color. In John Symons & P. Calvo (eds.), Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Psychology. Routledge.
    Questions about the ontology of color matter because colors matter. Colors are (or, at least, appear to be) extremely pervasive and salient features of the world. Moreover, people care about the distribution of these features: they expend money and effort to paint their houses, cars, and other possessions, and their clear preference for polychromatic over monochromatic televisions and computer monitors have consigned monochromatic models to the status of rare antiques. The apparent ubiquity of colors and their importance to our lives (...)
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  13. Jonathan Cohen (2012). Redness, Reality, and Relationalism. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 12 (3):351-378.
    In this paper I reply to two sets of criticisms—a first from Joshua Gert, and a second from Keith Allen—of the relationalist view of color developed and defended in my book, The Red and the Real: An Essay on Color Ontology.
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  14. Jonathan Cohen (2010). Color Relationalism and Color Phenomenology. In Bence Nanay (ed.), Perceiving the World. Oxford University Press. 13.
    Color relationalism is the view that colors are constituted in terms of relations between subjects and objects. The most historically important form of color relationalism is the classic dispositionalist view according to which, for example red is the disposition to look red to standard observers in standard conditions (mutatis mutandis for other colors).1 However, it has become increasingly apparent in recent years that a commitment to the relationality of colors bears interest that goes beyond dispositionalism (Cohen, 2004; Matthen, 1999, 2001, (...)
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  15. Jonathan Cohen (2010). It's Not Easy Being Green : Hardin and Color Relationalism. In Jonathan Cohen & Mohan Matthen (eds.), Color Ontology and Color Science. Mit Press.
    But Hardin hasn’t contented himself with reframing traditional philosoph- ical issues about color in a way that is sensitive to relevant empirical con- straints. In addition, he has been a staunch defender of color eliminativism — the view that there are no colors, qua properties of tables, chairs, and other mind-external objects, and a vociferous critic of several varieties of re- alism about color that have been defended by others (e.g., [Hardin, 2003], [Hardin, 2005]). These other views include the so-called (...)
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  16. Jonathan Cohen (2009/2011). The Red and the Real: An Essay on Color Ontology. Oxford.
    The space of options -- The argument from perceptual variation -- Variation revisited : objections and responses -- Relationism defended : linguistic and mental representation of color -- Relationism defended : ontology -- Relationism defended : phenomenology -- A role functionalist theory of color -- Role functionalism and its relationalist rivals.
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  17. Jonathan Cohen (2008). Colour Constancy as Counterfactual. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (1):61 – 92.
    There is nothing in this World constant but Inconstancy. [Swift 1711: 258] In this paper I argue that two standard characterizations of colour constancy are inadequate to the phenomenon. This inadequacy matters, since, I contend, philosophical appeals to colour constancy as a way of motivating illumination-independent conceptions of colour turn crucially on the shortcomings of these characterizations. After critically reviewing the standard characterizations, I provide a novel counterfactualist understanding of colour constancy, argue that it avoids difficulties of its traditional rivals, (...)
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  18. 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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  19. Jonathan Cohen (2005). Colors, Functions, Realizers, and Roles. Philosophical Topics 33 (1):117-140.
    You may speak of a chain, or if you please, a net. An analogy is of little aid. Each cause brings about future events. Without each the future would not be the same. Each is proximate in the sense it is essential. But that is not what we mean by the word. Nor on the other hand do we mean sole cause. There is no such thing.
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  20. Jonathan Cohen (2004). Color Properties and Color Ascriptions: A Relationalist Manifesto. Philosophical Review 113 (4):451-506.
    Are colors relational or non-relational properties of their bearers? Is red a property that is instantiated by all and only the objects with a certain intrinsic (/non-relational) nature? Or does an object with a particular intrinsic (/non-relational) nature count as red only in virtue of standing in certain relations - for example, only when it looks a certain way to a certain perceiver, or only in certain circumstances of observation? In this paper I shall argue for the view that color (...)
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  21. Jonathan Cohen (2003). On the Structural Properties of the Colours. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (1):78-95.
    Primary quality theories of color claim that colors are intrinsic, objective, mind-independent properties of external objects — that colors, like size and shape, are examples of the sort of properties moderns such as Boyle and Locke called primary qualities of body.1 Primary quality theories have long been seen as one of the main philosophical options for understanding the nature of color.
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  22. Jonathan Cohen (2003). Color: A Functionalist Proposal. [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 113 (1):1-42.
    In this paper I propose and defend an account of color that I call color functionalism. I argue that functionalism is a non-traditional species of primary quality theory, and that it accommodates our intuitions about color and the facts of color science better than more widely discussed alternatives.
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  23. Jonathan Cohen (2001). Two Recent Anthologies on Color. Philosophical Psychology 14 (1):118-122.
    Although philosophers have puzzled about color for millennia, the recent explosion in philosophical interest in the topic can largely be traced to C. L. Hardin’s widely-read and deservedly-praised Color for Philosophers: Unweaving the Rainbow [Hardin, 1988]. While Hardin has had no more than the usual, limited success in convincing other philosophers to adopt the substance of his views, he has been quite influential about a point of philosophical methodology: he has convinced many that responsible philosophical work on color simply must (...)
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  24. Jonathan Cohen, A Guided Tour of Color. A Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind.
    One of the most salient facts about our experience of the world is that objects appear to have colors. This feature of our experience is both striking and pervasive. Indeed, representations of colors of objects are among the most notable deliverances of the visual modality, which is perhaps our most important source of information about the world. For this reason, among others, questions about the nature of color have crucial significance for a variety of philosophical subjects including perception, ontology, epistemology, (...)
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  25. Jonathan D. Cohen & Mohan Matthen (eds.) (2010). Color Ontology and Color Science. Mit Press.
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  26. Jonathan Cohen, C. L. Hardin & Brian P. McLaughlin (2007). The Truth About 'the Truth About True Blue'. Analysis 67 (294):162–166.
    It can happen that a single surface S, viewed in normal conditions, looks pure blue (“true blue”) to observer John but looks blue tinged with green to a second observer, Jane, even though both are normal in the sense that they pass the standard psychophysical tests for color vision. Tye (2006a) finds this situation prima facie puzzling, and then offers two different “solutions” to the puzzle.1 The first is that at least one observer misrepresents S’s color because, though normal in (...)
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  27. Jonathan Cohen, C. L. Hardin & Brian P. McLaughlin (2006). True Colours. Analysis 66 (292):335-340.
    (Tye 2006) presents us with the following scenario: John and Jane are both stan- dard human visual perceivers (according to the Ishihara test or the Farnsworth test, for example) viewing the same surface of Munsell chip 527 in standard conditions of visual observation. The surface of the chip looks “true blue” to John (i.e., it looks blue not tinged with any other colour to John), and blue tinged with green to Jane.1 Tye then in effect poses a multiple choice question.
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  28. Steven Davis (ed.) (2000). Vancouver Studies in Cognitive Science. New York: Oxford University Press.
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  29. George Graham & William Bechtel (eds.) (1998). A Companion to Cognitive Science. Blackwell.
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  30. 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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  31. Allan Hazlett & Edward Wilson Averill (2010). A Problem For Relational Theories of Color. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81 (1):140-145.
    We argue that relationalism entails an unacceptable claim about the content of visual experience: that ordinary ‘red’ objects look like they look like they look like they’re red, etc.
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  32. David R. Hilbert (1998). Theories of Colour. In Edward Craig (ed.), The Encyclopdia of Philosophy. Routledge.
    The world as perceived by human beings is full of colour. The world as described by physical scientists is composed of colourless particles and fields. Philosophical theories of colour since the scientific revolution have been primarily driven by a desire to harmonize these two apparently conflicting pictures of the world. Any adequate theory of colour has to be consistent with the characteristics of colour as perceived without contradicting the deliverances of the physical sciences. Given this conception of the aim of (...)
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  33. David R. Hilbert (1987). Color and Color Perception: A Study in Anthropocentric Realism. Csli Press.
  34. 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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  35. John Kulvicki (2003). Hue Magnitudes and Revelation. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26 (1):36-37.
    Revelation, the thesis that the full intrinsic nature of colors is revealed to us by color experiences, is false in Byrne & Hilbert's (B&H's) view, but in an interesting and nonobvious way. I show what would make Revelation true, given B&H's account of colors, and then show why that situation fails to obtain, and why that is interesting.
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  36. Mohan P. Matthen (1999). The Disunity of Color. Philosophical Review 108 (1):47-84.
    What is color? What is color vision? Most philosophers answer by reference to humans: to human color qualia, or to the environmental properties or "quality spaces" perceived by humans. It is argued, with reference to empirical findings concerning comparative color vision and the evolution of color vision, that all such attempts are mistaken. An adequate definition of color vision must eschew reference to its outputs in the human cognition and refer only to inputs: color vision consists in the use of (...)
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  37. Barry Maund, Color. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Colors are of philosophical interest for two kinds of reason. One is that colors comprise such a large and important portion of our social, personal and epistemological lives and so a philosophical account of our concepts of color is highly desirable. The second reason is that trying to fit colors into accounts of metaphysics, epistemology and science leads to philosophical problems that are intriguing and hard to resolve. Not surprisingly, these two kinds of reasons are related. The fact that colors (...)
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  38. Rainer Mausfeld (2010). The Perception of Material Qualities and the Internal Semantics of the Perceptual System. In Albertazzi Liliana, Tonder Gert & Vishwanath Dhanraj (eds.), Perception beyond Inference. The Information Content of Visual Processes. MIT Press.
  39. 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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  40. Nicholas Maxwell (1966). Physics and Common Sense. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 16 (February):295-311.
    In this paper I set out to solve the problem of how the world as we experience it, full of colours and other sensory qualities, and our inner experiences, can be reconciled with physics. I discuss and reject the views of J. J. C. Smart and Rom Harré. I argue that physics is concerned only to describe a selected aspect of all that there is – the causal aspect which determines how events evolve. Colours and other sensory qualities, lacking causal (...)
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  41. 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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  42. Stephen Palmer (1999). Color, Consciousness, and the Isomorphism Constraint. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (6):923-943.
    The relations among consciousness, brain, behavior, and scientific explanation are explored in the domain of color perception. Current scientific knowledge about color similarity, color composition, dimensional structure, unique colors, and color categories is used to assess Locke.
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  43. Adam Pautz (2009). Colour, Philosophical Perspectives. In Axel Cleeremans, Patrick Wilken & Tim Bayne (eds.), Oxford Companion to Consciousness. Oxford University Press. 144-149.
    An overview of the main positions on colour.
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  44. John Symons & Paco Calvo (eds.) (2009). The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Psychology. Routledge.
    The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Psychology is an invaluable guide and major reference source to the major topics, problems, concepts and debates in philosophy of psychology and is the first companion of its kind. A team of renowned international contributors provide forty-two chapters organised into eight clear parts: historical background the status of psychological theories models of the mind behaviour, development and the brain thought and language perception and consciousness the inner world psychology and the Self. The Companion covers (...)
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  45. Evan Thompson (1995). Colour Vision. Routledge.
    This book is a major contribution to the interdisciplinary project of investigating the true nature of color vision.
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  46. Evan Thompson, A. Palacios & F. J. Varela (1992). Ways of Coloring. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 15 (1):1-26.
    Different explanations of color vision favor different philosophical positions: Computational vision is more compatible with objectivism (the color is in the object), psychophysics and neurophysiology with subjectivism (the color is in the head). Comparative research suggests that an explanation of color must be both experientialist (unlike objectivism) and ecological (unlike subjectivism). Computational vision's emphasis on optimally prespecified features of the environment (i.e., distal properties, independent of the sensory-motor capacities of the animal) is unsatisfactory. Conceiving of visual perception instead as the (...)
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  47. Dave Ward (2009). The Agent in Magenta. PSYCHE 15 (1).
    How should we understand the relationship between conscious perception and action? Does an appeal to action have any place in an account of colour experience? This essay aims to shed light on the first question by giving a positive response to the second. I consider two types of enactive approach to perceptual consciousness, and two types of account of colour perception. Each approach to colour perception faces serious objections. However, the two views can be combined in a way that resists (...)
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  48. Ralph Wedgwood (1997). The Essence of Response-Dependence. European Review of Philosophy 3:31-54.
    Many philosophers have thought that colours or flavours or values are in some way less objective than shape or mass or motion. This paper explores the approach to capturing this thought that is based on the idea of ‘response-dependence’. First, it is argued that the conceptions of response-dependence developed by Mark Johnston, Philip Pettit and Crispin Wright fail to capture this thought adequately. Then, the rest of the paper proposes an alternative conception, based in part on Kit Fine's notion of (...)
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  49. Jonathan Westphal (1991). Colour: A Philosophical Introduction. Blackwell.
  50. Gábor A. Zemplén (2004). Newton's Colour Circle and Palmer's “Normal” Colour Space. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (1):166-168.
    Taking the real Newtonian colour circle – and not the one Palmer depicts as Newton's – we don't have to wait 300 years for Palmer to say no to the Lockean aperçu about the inverted spectrum. One of the aims of this historical detour is to show that one's commitment about the “topology” of the colour space greatly affects Palmer's argument.
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