Wavelength theory of color strikes back: The return of the physical

Synthese 132 (3):303-34 (2002)
There have been a number of criticisms, based on visual processes, of the Australian view that colour is an objective property of the world. These criticisms have led to subjective theories about colour. These visual processes (metamers, retinex theory, opponent processes, simultaneous contrast, colour constancy, subjective colours) have been examined and it is suggested that they do not carry their supposed critical weight against an objective theory. In particular, it is argued that metamers don''t occur in nature and primate colour vision evolved without metamers. Thus normal colour vision occurs without the problem of metamers. This argument, in conjunction with evidence against the critical roles of opponent processes and retinex theory in colour vision, is taken to suggest that colour can be given a photon energy/wavelengthrealism explanation. This proposal allows an account of the many microstructural bases of colour generation put forward by Nassau (1983). It is argued that neither disjunctive realism or reflectance realism are adequate objective explanations of colour.
Keywords Color  Metaphysics  Process  Property  Realism  Vision  Nassau, K
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DOI 10.1023/A:1020345513372
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