On the reality of color

The Quest for Reality, contains, amongst much else, a sustained and deeply illuminating investigation of the thesis Barry Stroud labels ’subjectivism’ about colours. The grounds he relentlessly amasses for rejecting the thesis are, in my view, compelling. There is a sense, indeed, in which I think they are more compelling than he says he himself finds them. For as I understand his arguments, they contain the materials for delivering a positive answer to the question: are objects really coloured? As Stroud himself presents the outcome of his investigation, they do not. Actually, to put it in this ’headline-grabbing’ way is misleading. The real issue turns on the main concern of his book-- his immensely thought-provoking investigation of the questions: what counts as a metaphysical account of reality? And, in the test case of colours, can the task of addressing the question of whether they are or are not part of reality be successfully undertaken? The suggestion I will be making is that his rejection of subjectivism contains the materials for asking about the metaphysical reality of colour in a way that is distinct from the way he shows cannot work; and that on this distinct way, the answer to the question of whether objects are really coloured is: yes. So, he might either reject the very idea that this alternative way of framing the question about colours does count as an example of a metaphysical quest for their reality; or he might agree that it is one, but disagree with the positive answer I sketch on his behalf, so to speak
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