What is the relationship between color experience and color? Here, I defend the view that it is semantic: color experience denotes color in a code innately known by the perceiver. This semantic theory contrasts with a variety of theories according to which color is defined as the cause of color experience (in a special set of circumstances). It also contrasts with primary quality theories of color, which treat color as a physical quantity. (...) I argue that the semantic theory better accounts for the kinds of knowledge we have regarding both the color of objects that we see and of the colors themselves. (shrink)
Physics tells us what is objectively there. It has no place for the colours of things. So colours are not objectively there. Hence, if there is such a thing at all, colour is mind-dependent. This argument forms the background to disputes over whether common sense makes a mistake about colours. It is assumed that..
Most philosophical or scientific theories suppose that colour composition judgments refer to the way colours appear to us. The dominant view is therefore phenomenalist in the sense that colour composition is phenomenally given to perceivers. This paper argues that there is no evidence for a phenomenalist view of colour composition and that a conventionalist approach should be favoured.
It is commonly held that Wittgenstein abandoned the Tractatus largely because of a problem concerning color incompatibility. My aim is to solve this problem on Wittgenstein’s behalf. First I introduce the central program of the Tractatus (§1) and the color incompatibility problem (§2). Then I solve the problem without abandoning any Tractarian ideas (§3), and show that given certain weak assumptions, the central program of the Tractatus can in fact be accomplished (§4). I conclude by distinguishing my system (...) of analysis from others and by explaining the historical underpinnings of my understanding of the nature of elementary propositions (§5). (shrink)
Physics tells us what is objectively there. It has no place for the colours of things. So colours are not objectively there. Hence, if there is such a thing at all, colour is mind-dependent. This argument forms the background to disputes over whether common sense makes a mistake about colours. It is assumed that..
As standardly conceived, an illusion is an experience of an object o appearing F where o is not in fact F. Paradigm examples of color illusion, however, do not fit this pattern. A diagnosis of this uncovers different sense of appearance talk that is the basis of a dilemma for the standard conception. The dilemma is only a challenge. But if the challenge cannot be met, then any conception of experience, such as representationalism, that is committed to the standard (...) conception is false. Perhaps surprisingly, naïve realism provides a better account of color illusion.An apparence ymaad by som Magyk. Chaucer. (shrink)
I will develop a new problem for almost all realist theories of colour. The problem involves fluctuations in our colour experiences that are due to visual noise rather than changes in the objects we are looking at.
The target article is an attempt to make some progress on the problem of color realism. Are objects colored? And what is the nature of the color properties? We defend the view that physical objects (for instance, tomatoes, radishes, and rubies) are colored, and that colors are physical properties, specifically types of reflectance. This is probably a minority opinion, at least among color scientists. Textbooks frequently claim that physical objects are not colored, and that the colors are (...) "subjective" or "in the mind." The article has two other purposes: first, to introduce an interdisciplinary audience to some distinctively philosophical tools that are useful in tackling the problem of color realism and, second, to clarify the various positions and central arguments in the debate. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that color is a relational feature of the distal objects of perception, a way of appearing. I begin by outlining three constraints any theory of color should satisfy: (i) physicalism about the non-mental world, (ii) consistency with what is known from color science, and (iii) transparency about color experience. Traditional positions on the ontological status of color, such as physicalist reduction of color to spectral re?ectance, subjectivism, dispositional- ism, and (...) primitivism, fail, I claim, to meet all three constraints. By treating color as a relational property, a way of appearing, the three constraints can be met. However, serious problems for this view emerge when considering the relation between illusory color experiences (particularly hallucinations) and veridical color experiences. I do not propose a solution to these problems. (shrink)
A major part of the mind–body problem is to explain why a given set of physical processes should give rise to qualia of one sort rather than another. Colour hues are the usual example considered here, and there is a lively debate between, for example, Hardin, Levine, Jackson, Clark and Chalmers as to whether the results of colour vision science can provide convincing explanations of why colours actually look the way they do. This paper examines carefully the type of explanation (...) that is needed here, and it is concluded that it does not have to be reductive to be effective. What needs to be explained more than anything is why inverted hue scenarios are more intuitive than other sensory inversions: and the issue of physicalism versus dualism is only of marginal relevance here. (shrink)
The view that the mind-dependence of colour is implicit in our ordinary thinking has a distinguished history. With its origins in Berkeley, the view has proved especially popular amongst so-called ‘Oxford’ philosophers, proponents including Cook Wilson (1904: 773-4), Pritchard (1909: 86-7), Ryle (1949: 209), Kneale (1950: 123) and McDowell (1985: 112). Gareth Evans’s discussion of secondary qualities in “Things Without the Mind” is representative of this tradition. It is his version of the view that I consider in this paper.
According to naïve realist (or primitivist) theories of colour, colours are sui generis mind-independent properties. The question that I consider in this paper is the relationship of naïve realism to what Mark Johnston calls Revelation, the thesis that the essential nature of colour is fully revealed in a standard visual experience. In the first part of the paper, I argue that if naïve realism is true, then Revelation is false. In the second part of the paper, I defend naïve realism (...) against a number of objections. (shrink)
The realist preference for reductive theories of color over the last few decades is particularly striking in light of the generally anti-reductionist mood of recent philosophy of mind. The parallels between the mind-body problem and the case of color are substantial enough that the difference in trajectory is surprising. While dualism and non-.
Inter-species variation in colour perception poses a serious problem for the view that colours are mind-independent properties. Given that colour perception varies so drastically across species, which species perceives colours as they really are? In this paper, I argue that all do. Specifically, I argue that members of different species perceive properties that are determinates of different, mutually compatible, determinables. This is an instance of a general selectionist strategy for dealing with cases of perceptual variation. According to selectionist views, objects (...) simultaneously instantiate a plurality of colours, all of them genuinely mind-independent, and subjects select from amongst this plurality which colours they perceive. I contrast selectionist views with relationalist views that deny the mind-independence of colour, and consider some general objections to this strategy. (shrink)
The dominant view among philosophers of perception is that color experiences, like color judgments, are essentially representational: as part of their very nature color experiences possess representational contents which are either accurate or inaccurate. My starting point in assessing this view is Sydney Shoemaker’s familiar account of color perception. After providing a sympathetic reconstruction of his account, I show how plausible assumptions at the heart of Shoemaker’s theory make trouble for his claim that color experiences (...) represent the colors of things. I consider various ways of trying to avoid the objection, and find all of the responses wanting. My conclusion is that we have reason to be skeptical of the orthodox view that color experiences are constitutively representational. (shrink)
In this paper I examine whether representationalism can account for various thought experiments about colour inversions. Representationalism is, at minimum, the view that, necessarily, if two experiences have the same representational content then they have the same phenomenal character. I argue that representationalism ought to be rejected if one holds externalist views about experiential content and one holds traditional exter- nalist views about the nature of the content of propositional attitudes. Thus, colour inver- sion scenarios are more damaging to externalist (...) representationalist views than have been previously thought. More specifically, I argue that representationalists who endorse externalism about experiential content either have to become internalists about the content of propositional attitudes or they have to adopt a novel variety of externalism about the content of propositional attitudes. This novel type of propositional attitude externalism is investigated. It can be seen that adopting it forces one to reject Putnam. (shrink)
Color subjectivists claim that, despite appearances to the contrary, the world external to the mind is colorless. However, in giving an account of color perception, subjectivists about the nature of perceived color must address the nature of perceived spatial location as well. The argument here will be that subjectivists’ problems with coordinating the metaphysics of perceived color and perceived location render color perception implausibly mysterious. Consequently, some version of color realism, the view that colors (...) are (physical, dispositional, functional, sui generis, or some other) properties of physical objects, is correct. (shrink)
Aristotle’s definition in De Anima of perception as the assimilation of sensible form without the matter of the perceived object is notoriously difficult to interpret. The present essay provides a novel interpretation of Aristotle’s definition by reading it in light of a puzzle about sensory presentation to be found in the work of Empedocles. Empedocles held a general conception of sensory awareness for which ingestion provides the model. In order for something to be perceived it must be taken within so (...) that it may be in contact with the sense organ. This raises a puzzle about color vision since color vision presents itself as the perception of the colors of distant particulars. Empedocles resolves this puzzle with his theory of effluences. If the colors of distant particulars are the effluences that they emit, then the colors may be assimilated by the organ of sight and so be seen. While Aristotle rejects the theory of effluences and the claim that to be perceptible is to be palpable to sense, he retains a conception of sensory awareness as a mode of assimilation. Thus it is natural to think of perception as a mode of taking in. But how can we take in what remains external? And if we can, what does taking in here mean such that we could? A generalized form of Empedoclean puzzlement consists in the persistence of this latter question. This puzzlement persists to this day. Thus Broad remarks that “It is a natural, if paradoxical, way of speaking to say that seeing seems to ‘bring us into contact with remote objects’ and to reveal their shapes and colors.” What is novel in the present essay is the attempt to understand Aristotle’s definition of perception as a response to such puzzlement. The assimilation of sensible form is meant to be the sense in which we take in the scene before us. (shrink)
Representationalism, the view that phenomenal character supervenes on intentional content, has attracted a wide following in recent years. Most representationalists have also endorsed what I call 'standard Russellianism'. According to standard Russellianism, phenomenal content is Russellian in nature, and the properties represented by perceptual experiences are mind-independent physical properties. I argue that standard Russellianism conflicts with the everyday experience of colour constancy. Due to colour constancy, standard Russellianism is unable to simultaneously give a proper account of the phenomenal content of (...) colour experience and do justice to its phenomenology. (shrink)
In The Quest for Reality: Subjectivism and the Metaphysics of Colour [Stroud, 2000], Barry Stroud carries out an ambitious attack on various forms of irrealism and subjectivism about color. The views he targets - those that would deny a place in objective reality to the colors - have a venerable history in philosophy. Versions of them have been defended by Galileo, Descartes, Boyle, Locke, and Hume; more recently, forms of these positions have been articulated by Williams, Smart, Mackie, Ryle, (...) and Hardin, among others. Stroud's aim is to argue not only that these writers fail to make their cases, but that no conceivable argument could ever convince us that colors are not a part of objective reality. (shrink)
Drawing on remarks scattered through his writings, I argue that Leibniz has a highly distinctive and interesting theory of color. The central feature of the theory is the way in which it combines a nuanced subjectivism about color with a reductive approach of a sort usually associated with objectivist theories of color. After reconstructing Leibniz's theory and calling attention to some of its most notable attractions, I turn to the apparent incompatibility of its subjective and reductive components. (...) I argue that this apparent tension vanishes in light of his rejection of a widely accepted doctrine concerning the nature of bodies and their geometrical qualities. (shrink)
Are the following propositions true of the colors: No object can be more than one determinable or determinate color all over at the same time (Incompatibility); the colors of objects are mind-independent (Objectivism); and most human observers usually perceive the colors of objects veridically in typical conditions (Veridicality)? One reason to think not is that the empirical literature appears to support the proposition that there is mass perceptual disagreement about the colors of objects amongst human observers in typical conditions (...) (P-Disagreement). In this article, we defend Incompatibility, Objectivism, and Veridicality by calling into question whether the empirical literature really supports P-Disagreement. (shrink)
Radical contextualists have observed that the content of what is said by the utterance of a sentence is shaped in far-reaching ways by the context of utterance. And they have argued that the ways in which the content of what is said is shaped by context cannot be explained by semantic theory. A striking number of the examples that radical contextualists use to support their view involve sentences containing color adjectives ("red", "green", etc.). In this paper, I show how (...) the most sophisticated analysis of color adjectives within the explanatory framework of compositional truth conditional semantics--recently developed by Kennedy and McNally (2010)--needs to be modified to handle the full range of contextual variation displayed by color adjectives. (shrink)
This paper proposes a subjectivist approach to color within the framework of an externalist form of representationalism about phenomenal consciousness. Motivations are presented for accepting both representationalism and color subjectivism, and an argument is offered against the case made by Michael Tye on behalf of the claim that colors are objective, physical properties of objects. In the face of the considerable difficulties associated with finding a workable realist theory of color, the alternative account of color experience (...) set out, projectivist representationalism, claims that the color properties we encounter in experience exist only in the representational contents of our experiences. Color experiences are caused by the physical structure of objects, but objects are never actually colored and color experiences systematically misrepresent objects as colored. However, despite being an error theory of color, projectivist representationalism does not do violence to our everyday use and understanding of color concepts and terms, nor does it undermine the role of color experience in aiding the perceiving subject in navigating through the world. (shrink)
Larry Hardin has been the most steadfast and influential critic of physicalist theories of color over the last 20 years. In their modern form these theories originated with the work of Smart and Armstrong in the 1960s and 1970s1 and Hardin appropriately concentrated on their views in his initial critique of physicalism.2 In his most recent contribution to this project3 he attacks Michael Tye’s recent attempts to defend and extend color physicalism.4 Like Byrne and Hilbert5, Tye identifies (...) class='Hi'>color with the reflecting properties of objects (“reflectance physicalism”). Specifically, the determinate and determinable colors are identified with types of reflectances. (Setting some complications aside, the reflectance of an object is the proportion of light that it reflects at each wavelength in the visible spectrum.) These reflectance types are, in the terminology of Hilbert, anthropocentric—in the terminology of Lewis6, they are not very “natural”. (shrink)
The relations among consciousness, brain, behavior, and scientific explanation are explored in the domain of color perception. Current scientific knowledge about color similarity, color composition, dimensional structure, unique colors, and color categories is used to assess Locke.
Whether or not one endorses realism about colour, it is very tempting to regard realism about determinable colours such as green and yellow as standing or falling together with realism about determinate colours such as unique green or green31. Indeed some of the most prominent representatives of both sides of the colour realism debate explicitly endorse the idea that these two kinds of realism are so linked. Against such theorists, the present paper argues that one can be a realist about (...) the determinable colours of objects, and thus hold that most of the colour ascriptions made by competent speakers are literally true, while denying that there are any positive facts of the matter as to the determinate colours of objects. The result is a realistic colour realism that can certify most of our everyday colour ascriptions as literally correct, while acknowledging the data regarding individual variation. (shrink)
Let me begin by indicating where I think Harman and I are in agreement. We both think that "subjective reactions" must come into an account of color, although we have different views about how they do. We both think that perceptual experience has a "presentational or representational character," and that color is represented by our visual experiences as a feature of external objects, not as a feature of our experience. Moreover, we agree that, as Harman puts it, " (...) class='Hi'>color is experienced as a simple basic quality, rather than a disposition or complex of causal properties." As Harman emphasized in an earlier paper, 1 what we are introspectively aware of in our experience is its presentational or representational content, not any "mental paint" which bestows this content. I shall refer to all of this as Harman's "phenomenological point." Because we agree on this, we also agree that if his characters George and Mary were spectrum inverted relative to each other, supposing that to be possible, this would have to involve their perceiving the same objects as having different properties, this despite the fact that as normal perceivers they would perceive these objects as having the same colors. And I think we agree that in this case the properties would have to be relational ones, defined or constituted by their relations to the experiences of the subject perceiving them. (shrink)
We say "the grass is green" or "lemons are yellow" to state what everyone knows. But are the things we see around us really colored, or do they only look that way because of the effects of light rays on our eyes and brains? Is color somehow "unreal" or "subjective" and dependent on our human perceptions and the conditions under which we see things? Distinguished scholar Barry Stroud investigates these and related questions in The Quest for Reality. In this (...) long-awaited book, he examines what a person would have to do and believe in order to reach the conclusion that everyone's perceptions and beliefs about the color of things are "illusions" and do not accurately represent the way things are in the world as it is independently of us. Arguing that no such conclusion could be consistently reached, Stroud finds that the conditions of a successful unmasking of color cannot all be fulfilled. The discussion extends beyond color to present a serious challenge to many other philosophical attempts to discover the way things really are. A model of subtle, elegant, and rigorous philosophical writing, this study will attract a wide audience from all areas of philosophy. (shrink)
This article was written as a commentary on a target article by Peter W. Ross entitled "The Location Problem for Color Subjectivism" [Consciousness and Cognition 10(1), 42-58 (2001)], and is published together with it, and with other commentaries and Ross's reply. If you or your library have the necessary subscription you can get PDF versions of the target article, all the commentaries, and Ross's reply to the commentaries here. However, I do not think that it is by any means (...) essential for you to have read Ross's piece in order to understand this one. Ross defends a view called "color physicalism" or color realism that holds (simplifying somewhat) that colors are real physical properties (in typical cases, spectral reflectances of object surfaces). This is in opposition to what is probably a more widely held "subjectivist" view of color, holding that color qualities really exist only in the mind. In my commentary I suggest that a realist view of qualitative properties, such as Ross's, together with a direct, active view of perception, and a concept of "extended mind" (Clark & Chalmers, 1998) may provide the materials for a real solution to the notorious hard problem of consciousness. I sketch this solution in outline. - N.J.T.T. (shrink)
Most objectivist and dispositionalist theories of color have tried to resolve the challenge raised by color variations by drawing a distinction between real and apparent colors. This paper considers such a strategy to be fundamentally erroneous. The high degree of variability of colors constitutes a crucial feature of colors and color perception; it cannot be avoided without leaving aside the real nature of color. The objectivist theory of color defended in this paper holds that objects (...) have locally many different objective colors. Most color variations are then real and result from the extreme richness of color properties. (shrink)
In this paper I first discuss the colour-octahedron and the position of this model as an idealized system with respect to the remarks on colour-concepts in Remarks on Colour (RC). The next part examines the notion of aspect seeing in the light of the colour-octahedron and RC. From there a connection is made with On Certainty (OC). By linking the remarks on colour, seeing aspects and certainty, it may become clear that the investigations of Wittgenstein concerning colour and certainty direct (...) us towards a reflective dynamics and an anthropological interpretation of his ideas. (shrink)
It seems a compelling idea that experience of colour plays some role in our having concepts of the various colours, but in trying to explain the role experience plays the first thing we have to describe is what sort of colour experience matters here. I will argue that the kind of experience that matters is conscious attention to the colours of objects as an aspect of them on which direct intervention is selectively possible. As I will explain this idea, it (...) is a matter of being able to use experience to inform linguistic or conceptual thought about what would happen were there to be various interventions on an object. Against this background, I will review Locke’s fundamental argument that since we can change the colour of an almond by pounding it, there must be an error embodied in our ordinary concepts of colour: there is no such thing as intervening directly on the colour of an object. The analysis I present brings out the force of Locke’s argument. But I will propose a vindication of our commonsense conception of colour as an aspect of objects on which direct intervention is selectively possible. (shrink)
In addressing the metaphysical question of what colours are, a consideration that is commonly appealed to is how colours are represented—typically in perceptual experiences, but also in beliefs and linguistic utterances. Although representations need not accurately reflect the nature of what they represent—indeed, they need not represent anything that actually exists at all—the way colours are represented is often taken to provide at least a defeasible guide to the metaphysics: all else being equal, it seems we should prefer a theory (...) of what colours that is consistent with the way that they appear; otherwise, our theory of the nature of colour entails a potentially unattractive error theory about ordinary colour ascriptions. (shrink)
Color relationalism is the view that colors are constituted in terms of relations to perceiving subjects. Among its explanatory virtues, relation- alism provides a satisfying treatment of cases of perceptual variation. But it can seem that relationalists lack resources for saying that a representa- tion of x’s color is erroneous. Surely, though, a theory of color that makes errors of color perception impossible cannot be correct. In this paper I’ll argue that, initial appearances notwithstanding, relationalism contains (...) the resources to account for errors of color perception. I’ll conclude that worries about making room for error are worries the relationalist can meet. (shrink)
John Campbell proposed a so-called simple view of colours according to which colours are categorical properties of the surfaces of objects just as they normally appear to be. I raised an invertion problem for Campbell's view according to which the senses of colour terms fail to match their references, thus rendering those terms meaningless—or so I claimed. Gabriele de Anna defended Campbell's view against my example by contesting two points in particular. Firstly, de Anna claimed that there is no special (...) problem here for the simple view of colours, a similar invertion story could apply to primary qualities terms for shapes. Secondly, de Anna purported to give an account of the senses and references of colour terms in my invertion story which renders the senses and references of those terms mutually consistent. In this paper I contested both of de Anna's claims. Regarding the first, I argue that his imagined invertion of apparent shapes is not epistemically stable, in contrast to the invertion of apparent shapes is not epistemically stable, in contrast to the invertion of apparent colours. Hence the victims of apparently inverted shapes would be able to discover the mismatch of senses and refences of their shape terms, in contrast to the victims of apparent invertions of colours. Regarding the second, I argue that de Anna's account of the victim's colour terms itself uses and not merely mentions so-called colours terms. Hence de Anna' account of them is itself meaningless due to a mismatch of sense and reference. So I conclude that my objection to Campbell's simple view of colours stands. (shrink)
There is nothing in this World constant but Inconstancy. [Swift 1711: 258] In this paper I argue that two standard characterizations of colour constancy are inadequate to the phenomenon. This inadequacy matters, since, I contend, philosophical appeals to colour constancy as a way of motivating illumination-independent conceptions of colour turn crucially on the shortcomings of these characterizations. After critically reviewing the standard characterizations, I provide a novel counterfactualist understanding of colour constancy, argue that it avoids difficulties of its traditional rivals, (...) and defend it from objections. Finally, I show why, on this improved understanding, colour constancy does not have the philosophical consequences that have been claimed for it in the literature. (shrink)
According to anti-atomism, we represent color properties (e.g., red) in virtue of representing color relations (e.g., redder than). I motivate anti-atomism with a puzzle involving a series of pairwise indistinguishable chips. I then develop two versions of anti-atomism.
According to colour irrealism, material objects do not have colour; they only appear to have colour. The appeal of this view, prominent among philosophers and scientists alike, stems in large part from the conviction that scientific explanations of colour facts do not ascribe colour to material objects. To explain why objects appear to have colour, for instance, we need only appeal to surface reflectance properties, properties of light, the neurophysiology of observers, etc. Typically attending colour irrealism is the error theory (...) of ordinary colour judgement: ordinary judgements in which colour is ascribed to a material object are, strictly speaking, false. In this paper, I claim that colour irrealists who endorse the error theory cannot explain how we acquire colour concepts (yellow, green, etc.), concepts they must acknowledge we do possess. Our basic colour concepts, I argue, could not be phenomenal concepts that we acquire by attending to the colour properties of our experience. And, I explain, all other plausible explanations render colour concepts such that our ordinary colour judgements involving them are often true. Given the explanatory considerations upon which the irrealist's position is based, this is a severe problem for colour irrealism. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that all transparent objects are colorless. This thesis is important for at least three reasons. First, if transparent objects are colorless, there is no need to distinguish between colors which characterize three-dimensional bodies, like transparent colors, and colors which lie on the surface of objects. Second, traditional objections against color physicalism relying on transparent colors are rendered moot. Finally, an improved understanding of the relations between colors, light and transparency is provided.
What is color? What is color vision? Most philosophers answer by reference to humans: to human color qualia, or to the environmental properties or "quality spaces" perceived by humans. It is argued, with reference to empirical findings concerning comparative color vision and the evolution of color vision, that all such attempts are mistaken. An adequate definition of color vision must eschew reference to its outputs in the human cognition and refer only to inputs: (...) class='Hi'>color vision consists in the use of wavelength discrimination in the construction of visual representations. A color quality is one that is generated from such processing. (shrink)
b>. Computational models of colour vision assume that the biological function of colour vision is to detect surface reflectance. Some philosophers invoke these models as a basis for 'externalism' about perceptual content (content is distal) and 'objectivism' about colour (colour is surface reflectance). In an earlier article (Thompson et al. 1992), I criticized the 'computational objectivist' position on the basis of comparative colour vision: There are fundmental differences among the colour vision of animals and these differences do not converge on (...) the detection of any single type of environmental property. David R. Hilbert (1992) has recently defended computational objectivism against my 'comparative argument;' his arguments are based on the externalist approach to perceptual content originally developed by Mohan Matthen (1988) and on the computationally inspired theory of the evolutionary basis for trichromacy developed by Roger N. Shepard (1990). The present article provides a reply to Hilbert with extensive criticism of both Matthen's and Shepard's theories. I argue that the biological function of colour vision is not to detect surface reflectance, but to provide a set of perceptual categories that can apply to objects in a stable way in a variety of conditions. Comparative research indicates that both the perceptual categories and the distal stimuli will differ according to the animal and its visual ecology; therefore externalism and objectivism must be rejected. (shrink)
Dispositionalist accounts of colour concepts are now largely discarded. But a number of recent and influential objections to this type of theory can be readily answered providing the dispositionalist account contains the key elements it should-which actual versions in the literature do not. I explicate some of the conceptual components needed in such an account once we correctly understand the anthropocentricity of the colour concepts involved. When these components are incorporated into dispositionalism, including one crucial distinction in particular, some powerful (...) seeming objections against this revised dispositionalism fail. In addition, dispositionalism has extra advantages over the far more popular physicalist theories, and I therefore contend that we should explore vigorously this kind of enriched dispositionalist account. (shrink)
Color subjectivism is the view that color properties are mental properties of our visual sensations, perhaps identical with properties of neural states, and that nothing except visual sensations and other mental states exhibits color properties. Color phys- icalism, by contrast, holds that colors are exclusively properties of visible physical objects and processes.
Ross argues that the location problem for color-the problem of how it is represented as occupying a particular location in space-constitutes an objection to color subjectivism. There are two ways in which the location problem can be interpreted. First, it can be read as a why-question about the relation of visual experience to the environment represented: Why does visual experience represent a patch of color as located in this part of space rather than that? On this interpretation, (...) the subjectivist can answer Ross's objection by appealing to the physical location of reflectance rather than color. Second, it can be read as a how-question about visual representation itself: How does visual experience put together the experience of a color with the experience of its being located in space? This version makes the location problem a problem about visual experience itself and renders the ontology of color irrelevant to its solution. The location problem is thus no more a problem for the color subjectivist than for the color realist. (shrink)
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.. (shrink)
A dual referent approach to colour theory maintains that colour names have two intended, equally legitimate referents. For example, one might argue that ‘red’ refers both to red appearances or qualia, and also to the way red objects reflect light, the spectral surface reflectance properties of red things. I argue that normal cases of perceptual relativity can be used to support a dual referent approach, yielding an understanding of colour whose natural extension includes abnormal cases of perceptual relativity. This contrasts (...) with Peacocke’s multi-referent view, according to which such abnormal cases force us to introduce a wholly distinct kind of colour experience. I also argue that the two uses of colour names, arising from their two referents, have different extensions, even in normal perceptual circumstances, a consequence which conflicts with the heart of Rosenthal’s dual referent view. (shrink)
This book is a major contribution to the interdisciplinary project of investigating the true nature of color vision. In recent times, research into color vision has been one of the main success stories of cognitive science. Each discipline in the field--neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, computer science and philosophy--has contributed significantly to our understanding of color. Evan Thompson provides an accessible review of current scientific and philosophical discussions of color vision. He steers a course between the subjective and (...) objective positions on color, arguing for a relational account. Thompson develops a novel "ecological" approach to color vision in cognitive science and the philosophy of perception. The book is vital reading for all cognitive scientists and philosophers whose interests touch upon this central area. (shrink)
There are serious reasons for accepting each of these propositions individually but there are apparently insurmountable difficulties with accepting all three of them simultaneously if we assume that color is a single property. 1) and 2) together seem to imply that there is some property which all organisms with color vision can see and 3) seems to imply that there can be no such property. If these implications really are valid then one or more of these propositions will (...) have to be rejected in spite of whatever reasons can be given for their apparent acceptability. Before going on to discuss possible resolutions of this apparent contradiction it is worth pointing out there our three propositions are not all of a kind. Proposition 1) is a metaphysical thesis about the ontological status of color and proposition 3) is an empirical thesis about what properties organisms with color vision are capable of detecting. If you accept 1) then 2) will appear to verge on the trivial, but if 1) is denied then the status of 2) will appear more problematic. In what follows I will have more to say about why we either should or should not accept all three of these propositions. (shrink)
According to color subjectivism, colors are mental properties, processes, or events of visual experiences of color. I first lay out an argument for subjectivism founded on claims from visual science and show that it also relies on a philosophical assumption. I then argue that subjectivism is untenable because this view cannot provide a plausible account of color perception. I describe three versions of subjectivism, each of which combines subjectivism with a theory of perception, namely sense datum theory, (...) adverbialism, and the virtual color proposal, and argue that each version faces serious objections. Considering these three theories of perception to be exhaustive of those available to the subjectivist, I conclude that subjectivism is untenable and that the scientifically motivated argument for this view is unsound. I then offer the diagnosis that the philosophical assumption on which this argument relies is mistaken. (shrink)
Reflectance realism is an important position in the philosophy of colour. This paper is an examination of David R. Hilbert’s case for there being scientific support for the theory. The specific point in question is whether colour science has shown that reflectance is recovered by the human visual system. Following a discussion of possible counter-evidence in the recent scientific literature, I make the argument that conflicting interpretations of the data on reflectance recovery are informed by different theoretical assumptions about the (...) nature of colour, and of perception. If this is so, there cannot be neutral empirical evidence on this point, and this does seem to undermine Hilbert’s claim for empirical support. In the end, I suggest alternative ways of thinking about the relationship between colour ontology and empirical work on colour. (shrink)
Locke’s porphyry argument at 2.8.19 of the Essay has not been properly appreciated. On my reconstruction, Locke argues from the premise that porphyry undergoes a mere Cambridge change of color in different lighting conditions to the conclusion that porphyry’s colors do not belong to it as it is in itself. I argue that his argument is not quite sound, but it would be if Locke chose a different stone, alexandrite. Examining his argument teaches us something about the relation between (...) explanatory qualities and real alterations and something about the ways that colors inhere in bodies. (shrink)
: According to a consensus of psycho-physiological and philosophical theories, color sensations (or qualia) are generated in a cerebral "space" fed from photon-photoreceptor interaction (producing "metamers") in the retina of the eye. The resulting "space" has three dimensions: hue (or chroma), saturation (or "purity"), and brightness (lightness, value or intensity) and (in some versions) is further structured by primitive or landmark "colors"—usually four, or six (when white and black are added to red, yellow, green and blue). It has also (...) been proposed that there are eleven semantic universals—labeling the previous six plus the "intermediaries" of orange, pink, brown, purple, and gray. There are many versions of this consensus, but they all aim to provide ontological, epistemological and semantic blueprints for the brute fact of the reality of color ordained by Nature (evolution). In contrast to this consensus, we have argued that "seeing color" is not a matter of light waves impacting on our eyes, producing sensations to be categorized and labeled in the "color space" in the brain. While electrochemical events may unproblematically be regarded as the causal precondition for seeing color, the reception of sensations in "the color space" as semantically labeled natural categories, kinds, or information, is a "just so" story: it is Wittgenstein's beetle in a box. In contrast we consider that the authority of this consensus might better be regarded not as the result of the truth-tracking of nature, but as the sociohistorical outcome of philosophical presuppositions, scientific theories, experimental practices, technological apparatus, and their feed forward into the lifeworld. The question we shall therefore explore is whether, or to what extent, we ourselves are changed, as the conditions of production of color science change. Thus we are doing a kind of anthropology at two levels: of color science itself (and its effect on our own lifeworld), and of those studied by the "anthropology of color". As befits this stance we are agnostic about the theoretical entities of color science (cf. van Fraassen 2001), and within this new context, we propose to cross-cut object-and-subject, organism-and-environment (the bedrock of color science) in socio-historical ways. Our approach is in part inspired by, but not the same as, that of Gibson, in that we wish to pursue the notion of "social affordances" (Burmudez 1995). We suggest that color has become a naturalization through science-based technologies, which, through praxes and materializations, have become the perceptual and cultural entities that structure experience and understanding in the lifeworld. It is this naturalization that we shall refer to and characterize as "the historically inflected exosomatic organ". Consequently we shall explore the historical ontology of "color" without assuming an underlying biological constant (Dupré 2001). In part 1 we show the flimsiness of the evidence for the three dimensions of color, borrowed from physics, and fine-tuned to a "standard observer" (a "spectral creature" with a phenomenal "color space"). In part 2 we address the structuring of hue through the development of color circles and color spaces. This is followed by a review of the evidence for unique hues. Again the evidence is shown to be flimsy. We then show that an isolated domain of color is a particular kind of model, not a "natural given". In part 3, after reviewing what is referred to as "the isomorphy thesis," we discuss the exemplary case study of Berlin and Kay (1969). This illustrates the pull of stadial models presupposed by their evolutionary theory of color language. The Berlin and Kay paradigm proposes that American English color terms are incorrigible and can provide the universal metalanguage. We conclude by presenting an alternative account, namely that we ourselves are changed as the conditions of production of color science change. We argue that it is better to regard "seeing-color" as a historically inflected exosomatic organ that provides social affordances for those trained to grasp them. (shrink)
It seems intuitively obvious that metameric matching of color samples entails a loss of information, for spectrophotometrically diverse materials appear the same. This intuition implicitly relies on a conception of the function of color vision and on a related conception of how color samples should be individuated. It assumes that the function of color vision is to distinguish among spectral energy distributions, and that color samples should be individuated by their physical properties. I challenge these (...) assumptions by articulating a different conception of the function of color vision, according to which color vision serves to partition object surfaces into discrimination classes. (shrink)
I disagree with Ross about the location of colors: They are in the brain, not in the external world. It is difficult to deny that there are colors in our conscious visual experience, and if we take the causal theory of perception seriously, we cannot identify these colors with the beginning of the causal chain in perception (external objects in the distal stimulus field), but we must search for them at the end of the causal chain (in the brain). Several (...) lines of compelling evidence from cognitive neuroscience (e.g., synesthesia, dreaming, and achromatopsia) demonstrate unambiguously that color is in the brain. Furthermore, it seems that Ross has failed to consider one substantial version of subjectivism in his article. This monistic approach to color and consciousness appears to be the least implausible alternative when we try to understand what colors are and where they reside. (shrink)
In “The Location Problem for Color Subjectivism,” Peter Ross argues against what he calls subjectivism — the view that “colors are not describable in physical terms, ... [but are] mental processes or events of visual states” (2),1 and in favor of physicalism — a view according to which colors are “physical properties of physical objects, such as reﬂectance properties” (10). He rejects an argument that has been oﬀered in support of subjectivism, and argues that, since no form of subjectivism (...) is able to account for our perception of color, we are better oﬀ adopting physicalism. (shrink)
At least since Democritus, philosophers have been fond of the idea that material objects do not “really” have color. One such view is the error theory, according to which our ordinary judgments ascribing colors to objects are all erroneous, false; no object has any color at all. The error theorist proposes that everything that is so, including the fact that material objects appear to us to have color, can be explained without ever attributing color to objects—by (...) appealing merely to, e.g., surface reflectance properties, the nature of light, the neurophysiology of perceivers, and so on. The appeal of the error theory stems in significant part from the prevalent thought that such explanations are strongly suggested by our present scientific conception of the world.1. (shrink)
It is argued that there is much to be said for a fairly standard interpretation of the thesis that colour, unlike shape, is a subjective or phenomenal property of objects. But if this fairly standard thesis fails to do justice to the ‘objective’ aspect of colour, and justice in this regard is called for, then it is argued we can settle for less; we can settle for the strategy of ‘dividing the spoils’ between subjective and objective accounts. But it is (...) also argued that if we do settle for this, we need to realise that the same ‘egalitarian’ division cannot be made in application to the primary properties. And that it is argued is the insight at the heart of the traditional account. (shrink)
It is plausible to think that some animals perceive the world as coloreddifferently from the way humans perceive it. I argue that the best way ofaccommodating this fact is to adopt perceiver-relativism, the view that colorpredicates express relations between objects and types of perceivers.Perceiver-relativism makes no claim as to the identity of color properties;it is compatible with both physicalism and dispositionalism. I arguehowever for a response-dependence version of it according to which an object counts as red (for a type (...) of perceiver) iff it standardly looks red to normal perceivers (of that type). Finally, I develop a notion of minimal realism on which this account counts as realist despite its subjectivist elements, in that it is committed to the objectivityof truth. (shrink)
This essay* takes two notions of autonomy and two notions of explanation and argues that colours occur in explanations that fall under all of them. The claim that colours can be used to explain anything at all may seem to some people an outrage. But their pessimism is unjustified and the orthodox dispositional view which may seem to support it, I shall argue, itself has difficulties. In broad terms, Section 2 shows that there exist good straight scientific laws of colour, (...) constituting what one might call a phenomenal science. Section 3 offers a larger view of what we are doing when we attribute colours to things, a view which makes it a case of holistic explanation, similar in many ways to psychological explanation. Section 2 emphasizes the model of scientific explanation, and Section 3 the holistic model found in rational explanation; but it will emerge that colour explanation in different ways fits both models, as it also does the two principal notions of autonomy that the first section identifies. (shrink)
The standard adaptationist explanation of the presence of a sensory mechanism in an organism--that it detects properties useful to the organism--cannot be given for color vision. This is because colors do not exist. After arguing for this latter claim, I consider, but reject, nonadaptationist explanations. I conclude by proposing an explanation of how color vision could have adaptive value even though it does not detect properties in the environment.
Susan Hurley has attacked the ''Duplication Assumption'', the assumption thatcreatures with exactly the same internal states could function exactly alike inenvironments that are systematically distorted. She argues that the dynamicalinterdependence of action and perception is highly problematic for the DuplicationAssumption when it involves spatial states and capacities, whereas no such problemsarise when it involves color states and capacities. I will try to establish that theDuplication Assumption makes even less sense for lightness than for some ofthe spatial cases. This is (...) due not only to motor factors, but to the basic physicalasymmetry between black and white. I then argue that the case can be extendedfrom lightness perception to hue perception. Overall, the aims of this paper are:(1) to extend Susan Hurley''s critique of the Duplication Assumption; (2) to argueagainst highly constrained versions of Inverted Spectrum arguments; (3) to proposea broader conception of the vehicle for color perception. (shrink)
We wish to defend Jonathan Westphal's view that colour is complex against a recent ‘phenomenological’ criticism of Eric Rubenstein. There is often thought to be a conflict between two kinds of determinants of colour, physical and phenomenal. On the one hand there are the complex physical facts about colour, such as the determination of a surface colour by an absorption spectrum. There is also, however, the fact that the apparently simple phenomenological quality of what is seen is a function of (...) the physiological and psychological state of the viewing subject. Should the physical trump the phenomenal, or is it the other way round? Much of the phenomenal variation of colour, however, is explained by physical facts. There is a physics and a psychophysics of colour. Colours appear, to the colour scientists at least, to be in some sense objective, a sense not explained by the view that they are purely phenomenal. Taking physics and psychophysics into account will mean rejecting the claim that the content of what our concepts of colours are concepts of is exhausted by the purely phenomenal, or that we can determine these concepts simply by gazing at a colour. Taking account of physics will lead, as Westphal argued, instead to a view about white and the other colour terms like Putnam's account of gold. Necessary truths about colours cannot be explained without reference to the logic of the compossibility of what is given in reflection and absorption spectra, the analogue of H2O. (shrink)
Russell (1912) and others have argued that the real nature of colour is transparentto us in colour vision. It's nature is fully revealed to us and no further knowledgeis theoretically possible. This is the doctrine of revelation. Two-dimensionalFourier analyses of coloured checkerboards have shown that apparently simple,monadic, colours can be based on quite different physical mechanisms. Experimentswith the McCollough effect on different types of checkerboards have shown thatidentical colours can have energy at the quite different orientations of Fourierharmonic components but (...) no energy at the edges of the checkerboards, thusrefuting revelation. It is concluded that this effect is not explained by a superveniencedispositional account of colour as proposed by McGinn (1996). It was argued that theMcCollough effect in checkerboards was an example of a local mind/body reduction(Kim 1993), by which the different characteristics of identical colours falsifies revelation. This reduction being based on both physical and neurological mechanisms led to a clear explanation of the perceive phenomenal effects and thus laid a small bridge over the explanatory gap. (shrink)
Why do we draw the boundaries between “blue” and “green”, where we do? One proposed answer to this question is that we categorize color the way we do because we perceive color categorically. Starting in the 1950’s, the phenomenon of “categorical perception” (CP) encouraged such a response. CP refers to the fact that adjacent color patches are more easily discriminated when they straddle a category boundary than when they belong to the same category. In this paper, I (...) make three related claims. (1) Although what seems to guide discrimination performances seems to indeed be categorical information, the evidence in favor of the fact that categorical perception influences the way we perceive color is not convincing. (2) That CP offers a useful account of categorization is not obvious. While aiming at accounting for categorization, CP itself requires an account of categories. This being said, CP remains an interesting phenomenon. Why and how is our discrimination behavior linked to our categories? It is suggested that linguistic labels determine CP through a naming strategy to which participants resort while discriminating colors. This paper’s final point is (3) that the naming strategy account is not enough. Beyond category labels, what seems to guide discrimination performance is category structure. (shrink)
C. L. Hardin led a recent development in the philosophical literature on color in which research from visual science is used to argue that colors are not properties of physical objects, but rather are mental processes. I defend J. J. C. Smart''s physicalism, which claims that colors are physical properties of objects, against this attack. Assuming that every object has a single veridical (that is, nonillusory) color, it seems that physicalism must give a specification of veridical color (...) in terms natural to physics, independently of our interests. Hardin argues that since physicalism doesn''t give us any such specification of veridical color, this view is false. However, this argument assumes a mistaken account of veridical color. I show physicalism can appeal to an alternative account, according to which veridical color is characterized in terms of favored conditions of perceptual access, independently of any specification of the physical nature of color. (shrink)
Frank Jackson and Robert Pargetter (1987)2 have argued for a version of reductive physicalism about color which they claim can accommodate the basic intuitions that have led others to embrace dispositionalism or subjectivism about color. Jackson (1996) has further developed the view and provided responses to some objections to its original statement. While Jackson and Pargetter do not have much company in endorsing their specific form of color physicalism, elements of their view have shown up in other (...) realist accounts, including the relativized account of color offered by John Spackman (2002), the disjunctivism of color properties endorsed by Peter Ross (2000), and the subjectivist strain present in Sydney Shoemaker’s (1994) discussion of color.3 Additionally, Mark Johnston (1992) has used Jackson and Pargetter’s view as a principal target in his arguments against color physicalism. (shrink)
The space of options -- The argument from perceptual variation -- Variation revisited : objections and responses -- Relationism defended : linguistic and mental representation of color -- Relationism defended : ontology -- Relationism defended : phenomenology -- A role functionalist theory of color -- Role functionalism and its relationalist rivals.
C. L. Hardin has argued that the colour opponency of the vision system leads to chromatic subjectivism: chromatic sensory states reduce to neurophysiological states. Much of the force of Hardin's argument derives from a critique of chromatic objectivism. On this view chromatic sensory states are held to reduce to an external property. While I agree with Hardin's critique of objectivism it is far from clear that the problems which beset objectivism do not apply to the subjectivist position as well. I (...) develop a critique of subjectivism that parallels Hardin's anti-objectivist argument. (shrink)
A critical survey of recent work on the ontological status of colors supports the conclusion that, while some accounts of color can plausibly be dismissed, no single account can yet be endorsed. Among the remaining options are certain forms of color realism according which familiar colors are instantiated by objects in our extra-cranial visual environment. Also still an option is color anti-realism, the view that familiar colors are, at best, biologically adaptive fictions, instantiated nowhere.I argue that there (...) is simply no fact of the matter as to which of these remaining options is correct. I blame this indeterminacy on the fact that color vision exhibits several of the hallmarks of a modular input system, as described by Jerry Fodor in The Modularity of Mind. (shrink)
In his 1995 book Colour vision (New York: Routledge), Evan Thompson proposes a new approach to the ontology of color according to which it is tied to the ecological dispositions-affordances described by J.J. Gibson and his followers. Thompson claims that a relational account of color is necessary in order to avoid the problems that go along with the dispute between subjectivists and objectivists about color, but he claims that the received view of perception does not allow a (...) satisfactory relational account of color. Hence to avoid the problems of the subjectivist/objectivist dispute one must abandon the received view of perception. I describe an account which is similar to Thompson's, but which invokes instead the physical dispositional properties described by the received view. All of the distinguishing characteristics that Thompson claims separate his ecological dispositions from physical dispositions are in fact found in the physical dispositions appealed to by my proposed theory. Because my proposed theory is similar to subjectivism, Thompson's departure from the received view is not as radical as he claims. In a final section I describe the a posteriori manner in which a substantive departure from the received view must be carried out by describing an example of ecological experimentation. (shrink)
In Color for Philosophers C. L. Hardin argues that chromatic objectivism?a view which identifies colour with some or other property of objects?must be false. The upshot of Hardin's argument is this: there is, in fact, no principled correlation between physical properties and perceived colours. Since that correlation is a minimal condition for objectivism, objectivism is false. Mohan Matthen, who accepts Hardin's conclusion for what can be called "simple objectivism," takes it that an adaptationist theory of biological function applied to (...) colour is able to surmount the problems Hardin describes. It is Matthen's view that I am primarily concerned with in this paper. I will argue that it entails an overly simple view of adaptive value?as, perhaps, do all objectivist views. (shrink)
The problem of the nature of color is typically put in terms of the following question about the intentional content of visual experiences: what’s the nature of the property we attribute to physical objects in virtue of our visual experiences of color? This problem has proven to be tenacious largely because it’s not clear what the constraints are for an answer. With no clarity about constraints, the proposed solutions range widely, the most common dividing into subjectivist views which (...) hold that attributed colors are mental properties or mental events} and a variety of realist views, which hold that colors are properties of physical objects. These realist views, in turn, divide into views that hold that attributed colors are dispositions of physical objects to produce color experiences (dispositionalism),° nondispositional relations between objects and perceivers (the relational view)," physical properties of physical objects (physicalism),‘ or sui generis properties of physical objects (primitivism and impressionism).‘ I’ll examine a proposed constraint which Mark Johnston (1992) calls Revelation. According to Revelation, the appearance of color in our ordinary visual experience provides us with unqualified access to the nature of color. While every proposal about the nature of color must take a stand on how the.. (shrink)
Probably colour is the best worked-out example of allegedly neurophysiologically innate response categories determining percepts and percepts determining concepts, and hence biology fixing the basic categories implicit in the use of language. In this paper I argue against this view and I take C. L. Hardin's Color for Philosophers  as my main target. I start by undermining the view that four unique hues stand apart from all other colour shades (Section 2) and the confidence that the solar spectrum (...) is naturally divided into four categories (Section 3). For such categories to be truly universal, they have to be true for all peoples and in Section 4 I show that Berlin and Kay's  widely quoted theory of basic colour categories is not sufficiently supported to lend it any credibility. Having disposed of the view that inspection of language or ?pure? perception unveils the universal colour categories. I turn to neurophysiological and psychophysical theories of colour vision to see whether they provide a more solid basis for deciding what the innate response categories are. In Section 5 I show that Hardin's account of the opponent-process theory neither supports his view that ?colour-coding?takes place early in the visual neural pathway, nor his view that knowledge of colour vision science will help us solve many philosophical mysteries about colour. In Section 6 I give a more detailed review of what is known today about the neurophysiology of colour vision and I show that there's nothing in the brain which could be called a colour module, let alone a module with homunculi for particular basic colour categories. In Section 7 I show that psychophysical models do not support such rigid constraints on category formation either. Hence (Section 8), at least in the case of colour, current science supports a plasticity in the formation of categories that goes far beyond the requirements of those naturalistic philosophers who would like to ground primitive concepts in biology. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
Traditional theories locate color in primary qualities of objects, in dispositional properties of objects, in visual fields, or nowhere. In contrast, we argue that color is located in properties of light. More specifically, light is red iff there is a property P of the light that typically interacts with normal human perceivers to give the sensation of red. This is an error theory, because objects and visual fields that appear red are not really red, since they lack the (...) properties that make light red. We show how this light theory solves or avoids problems that afflict its competitors. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to defend the view that the processes underlying early vision are informationally encapsulated. Following Marr (1982) and Pylyshyn (1999) I take early vision to be a cognitive process that takes sensory information as its input and produces the so-called primal sketches or shallow visual outputs: informational states that represent visual objects in terms of their shape, location, size, colour and luminosity. Recently, some researchers (Schirillo 1999, Macpherson 2012) have attempted to undermine the idea of (...) the informational encapsulation of early vision by referring to experiments that seem to show that colour recognition is affected by the subject's beliefs about the typical colour of objects. In my view, however, one can reconcile the results of these experiments with the position that early vision is informationally encapsulated. Namely, I put fort a hypothesis according to which the early vision system has access to a local database that I call the mental palette and define as a network of associative links whose nodes stands for shapes and colours. The function of the palette is to facilitate colour recognition without employing central processes. I also describe two experiments by which the mental palette hypothesis can be tested. (shrink)
A widely held view on color cognition is that it is structured by a set of color fundamentals. Three sorts of evidence may be invoked in favor of such a ‘foundational’ approach to color cognition: physiological, phenomenal and lexical. This paper focuses on the lexical evidence, which draws from a predominant view in color categorization, the Basic color terms theory (BCTT). It argues that the BCTT does not consist in a foundational approach to color (...) cognition and does not provide such evidence. (shrink)
This article proposes an account of color constancy based on an examination of the relevant scientific literature. Differences in experimental settings and task instructions that lead to variation in subject performance are given particular attention. Based on the evidence discussed, the core of the proposal made is that there are two different forms of color constancy, one phenomenal and the other projective. This follows the hypothesis of Reeves et al. (Perception & Psychophysics 70:219–228, 2008). Unlike Reeves et al. (...) (Perception & Psychophysics 70:219–228, 2008), it is argued that projective color constancy is crucially dependent upon phenomenal color constancy and certain aspects of scene perception. Additionally, it is hypothesized that capacities that support projective color constancy have an important role to play in facilitating our ability to quickly recognize scenes with diagnostic chromatic properties independently of assignments of colors to object surfaces. (shrink)
For over a century, the question of the relation of language to thought has been extensively discussed in the case of color categorization, where two main views prevail. The relativist view claims that color categories are relative while the universalistic view argues that color categories are universal. Relativists also argue that color categories are linguistically determined, and universalists that they are perceptually determined. Recently, the argument for the perceptual determination of color categorization has been undermined, (...) and the relativist view has regained some ground. This paper argues that although the universalistic account of color categorization has been called into question, this is not enough to establish relativism. Color categories can still be said to be universal or particular, independent of the accounts of their universality or relativity. Because of its polarization, the debate has disregarded some issues that are key in our understanding of color categorization: the question of what a color category is and how to identify it. (shrink)
We designed a new protocol requiring French adult participants to group a large number of Munsell colour chips into three or four groups. On one, relativist, view, participants would be expected to rely on their colour lexicon in such a task. In this [ramework, the resulting groups should be more similar to French colour categories than to other languages categories. On another, universalist, view, participants would be expected to rely on universal features of perception. In this second framework, the resulting (...) groups should match colour categories of three and four basic terms languages. In this work, we first collected data to build an accurate map of French colour terms categories (Experiment 1). We went on testing how native French speakers spontaneously sorted a set of randomly presented coloured chips and, in line with the relativist prediction, we found that the resulting colour groups were more similar to French colour categories than to three and four basic terms languages (Experiment 2). However, the same results were obtained in a verbal interference condition (Experiment 3), suggesting that participants rely on language specific and nevertheless perceptual, colour categories. Collectively, these results suggest that the universalist/relativist dichotomy is a too narrow one. (shrink)
Extrapolation of Steels & Belpaeme's (S&B) results show that colour is a culturalist category. Populations will only share the category of colour if it is built into the system. If “left to themselves” different populations may or may not stumble on the colour category. Populations that do not share a colour category may still be able to communicate in a wide variety of environments.
Mandik (2012)understands color-consciousness conceptualism to be the view that one deploys in a conscious qualitative state concepts for every color consciously discriminated by that state. Some argue that the experimental evidence that we can consciously discriminate barely distinct hues that are presented together but cannot do so when those hues are presented in short succession suggests that we can consciously discriminate colors that we do not conceptualize. Mandik maintains, however, that this evidence is consistent with our deploying a (...) variety of nondemonstrative concepts for those colors and so does not pose a threat to conceptualism. But even if Mandik has shown that we deploy such concepts in these experimental conditions, there are cases of conscious states that discriminate colors but do not involve concepts of those colors. Mandik’s arguments sustain only a theory in the vicinity of conceptualism: The view that we possess concepts for every color we can discriminate consciously, but need not deploy those concepts in every conscious act of color discrimination. (shrink)
The phenomenon of synesthesia has undergone an invigoration of research interest and empirical progress over the past decade. Studies investigating the cognitive mechanisms underlying synesthesia have yielded insight into neural processes behind such cognitive operations as attention, memory, spatial phenomenology and inter-modal processes. However, the structural and functional mechanisms underlying synesthesia still remain contentious and hypothetical. The first section of the present paper reviews recent research on grapheme-color synesthesia, one of the most common forms of synesthesia, and addresses the (...) ongoing debate concerning the role of selective attention in eliciting synesthetic experience. Drawing on conclusions of the first half, the paper’s second half examines the various models proposed to explain the cognitive mechanisms behind grapheme-color synesthesia, and discusses the explanatory virtues of a new model suggesting that grapheme-color synesthesia is grounded in memory. The last section offers an examination of some of the broader philosophical implications of synesthesia. (shrink)
This article addresses two questions related to colour categorization, to wit, the question what a colour category is, and the question how we identify colour categories. We reject both the relativist and universalist answers to these questions. Instead, we suggest that colour categories can be identified with the help of the criterion of psychological saliency, which can be operationalized by means of consistency and consensus measures. We further argue that colour categories can be defined as well-structured entities that optimally partition (...) colour space. We provide some empirical support for this claim by presenting experimental results, which indicate that internal structure is a better predictor of colour categories than perceptual saliency. (shrink)
Color has been studied for centuries, but has never been completely understood. Digital technology has recently sparked a burgeoning interdisciplinary interest in color. The fact that color is a quality of perception rather than a physical quality brings up a host of interesting questions of interest to both artists and scholars. This volume--the ninth in the Vancouver Studies in Cognitive Science series--brings together chapters by psychologists, philosophers, computer scientists, and artists to explore the nature of human (...) class='Hi'>color perception with the aim to further our understanding of color by encouraging interdisciplinary interaction. (shrink)
If all the participants in the color ontology debate are naturalists with good sciences on their side, how could color subjectivism win? The apparent reason is that subjectivism is supported by the opponent process theory that is a successful neurophysiological reduction of colors. We will argue that the real reason is the unique reductive methodology of the opponent paradigm. We will undermine subjectivism by arguing against the methodology.
This essay deals with the problem of the status of colours, traditionally considered as the paradigmatic case of secondary qualities: do colours exist only as aspects of experience or are they real properties of objects, existing independently of human and animal perception? Recently, John Campbell has argued in favour of the simple view of colours, according to which colours are real properties of objects. I discuss the place of Campbell's position in a debated which was started by John Mackie and (...) continued by John McDowell, and defend it from a criticism due to Michael Smith. I conclude that the simple view is a philosophically credible position. Subsequently, I consider an alleged contradiction between the simple view and semantic externalism pointed out by Jim Edwards. I suggest that a supporter of the simple view may consistently maintain semantic externalism, if she also accepts epistemological externalism about the canonical warrant of perceptual judgements. (shrink)