'Looks red' and dangerous talk

Philosophy 70 (274):545-554 (1995)
This paper is partly to get rid of some irritation which I have felt at the quite common tendency of philosophers to elucidate ‘is red’ in terms of ‘looks red’. For a relatively recent example see, for example, Frank Jackson and Robert Pargetter, ‘An Objectivist′s Guide to Subjectivism about Colour’. However rather than try to make a long list of references, I would rather say ‘No names, no pack drill’. I have even been disturbed to find the use of the words ‘looks red’ that I am opposing ascribed to me by Keith Campbell in his useful article ‘David Armstrong and Realism about Colour’. I am not saying that such talk is necessarily wrong. Talk of ‘looks red’ may be a way of harmlessly referring to the behavioural discriminations with respect to colour of a human percipient. Where it is dangerous, at least to those of us who wish to argue for a broadly physicalist account of the mind, is that it may have concealed overtones of reference to epiphenomenal and irreducibly psychic properties of experiences. Moreover even if it does not do so it may be fence sitting on this issue and liable to misinterpretation
Keywords Aesthetics  Color  Experience  Perception  Psychology
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DOI 10.1017/S0031819100065797
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Philip Pettit (2003). Looks as Powers. Philosophical Issues 13 (1):221-52.
Ian Phillips (2013). Afterimages and Sensation. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87 (2):417-453.

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