Color Constancy and the Complexity of Color

Philosophical Topics 33 (1):141-158 (2005)
We can start with a definition. “[C]olour constancy is the constancy of the perceived colours of surfaces under changes in the intensity and spectral composition of the illumination.” (Foster et al. 1997) Given the definition we can now ask a question: Does human color vision exhibit color constancy?1 The answer to the question depends in part on how we interpret it. If the question is understood as asking whether human color vision displays constancy for every possible scene across every possible illumination then the answer is no.2 If the question is understood as asking whether human color vision displays some degree of constancy for some scenes across some range of illuminants then the answer is yes. The more interesting questions involve characterizing the degree of constancy human vision displays, the types of scenes and ranges of illuminants for which approximate constancy can be achieved and the..
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