Graduate studies at Western
Philosophical Studies 96 (1):21-44 (1999)
|Abstract||It is a priori on many accounts of colour concepts that something is red if and only if it is such that it would look red to normal observers in normal circumstances: it is such that it would look red, as we can say, under normal conditions of observation. And as this sort of formula is widely applied to colour concepts, so similar schemas are commonly defended in relation to a variety of other concepts too. Not only are colour concepts connected in such a fashion with human responses, so by many accounts are secondary quality concepts in general; aesthetic concepts, moral concepts and evaluative concepts of all kinds; modal concepts that serve to pick out the possible and the necessary; and so on. The fashion for resorting to such formulas should not be surprising. Most of us suppose that whether a given, ostensively introduced term has a certain semantic value – whether, for example, it designates a certain property – ought to show up in people’s tending to use it of things, and only of things, that apparently have that property. The obvious way of expressing this expectation is to require that the use of the ostensive term covary with the presence of the property in conditions that are normal in some sense for detecting that property. Thus there is prima facie reason to hold, and hold as an a priori matter, that for any ostensively introduced term, ‘P’, something is P if and only if it is such that it would seem P – people would be disposed to use ‘P’ to ascribe the corresponding property to it – under normal conditions of observation. The schemas invoked under this motivation may vary in many different ways, of course. First, they may not connect the bare or simple reality of being P with a normalised human response, as Philosophical Studies 96: 21–44, 1999. © 1999 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands. 22..|
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