The problem of nonreflectors perceived as colored is the central problem for Byrne & Hilbert's (B&H's) physicalism. Vision scientists and other interested parties need to consider the motivation for their account of “productance physicalism.” Is B&H's theory motivated by scientific concerns or by philosophical interests intended to preserve a physicalist account of color as a posteriori necessary?
A concern for cultural specificity, the staple of traditional anthropological research, survives the transition to domain-specific accounts of cognitive structuring such as Atran's, and is arguably better off for having made the transition. The identification of domain-specific processes provide us with criteria for sorting cultural differences and integrating cultural concerns within cognitive science.
Is there a universal biolinguistic disposition for the development of "basic" colour words? This question has been a subject of debate since Brent Berlin and Paul Kay's BASIC COLOR TERMS: THEIR UNIVERSALITY AND EVOLUTION was published in 1969. NAMING THE RAINBOW is the first extended study of this debate. The author describes and criticizes empirically and conceptually unified models of colour naming that relate basic colour terms directly to perceptual and ultimately to physiological facts, arguing that this strategy has overlooked (...) the cognitive dimension of colour naming. He proposes a psychosemantics for basic colour terms which is sensitive to cultural difference and to the nature and structure of non-linguistic experience. Contemporary colour naming research is radically interdisciplinary and NAMING THE RAINBOW will be of interest to philosophers, psychologists, anthropologists, and cognitive scientists concerned with: biological constraints on cognition and categorization; problems inherent in cross-cultural and in interdisciplinary science; the nature and extent of cultural relativism. (shrink)
In Basic Color Terms, Berlin and Kay argued for a restricted number of "basic" color wordswords they claimed to be culturally universal. This claim about language was buttressed by psychologist Eleanor Rosch's famous work on color prototypes. Together, the works of Berlin and Kay and Rosch are the foundation for a contemporary research tradition investigating the biological foundations of color naming. In this article, the author describes some common objections to the works of Berlin and Kay and Rosch and argues (...) that they are not significant. The claim that explanations of color naming ought to be strictly cultural also is discussed and rejected. (shrink)
We need to reconsider and reconceive the path that will take us from innate perceptual saliencies to basic (and perhaps other) colour language. There is a space between the perceptual and the linguistic levels that needs to be filled by an account of the rules that people use to generate relatively stable reference classes in a social context.
In a message posted to one of the cognitive science discussion groups the author asked, to paraphrase roughly, what should be read to get an up-to-date account of research into color naming? My advice is (and was) to consider the two books under review here: C. L. Hardin and Luisa Maffis excellent collection of essays on color language research; Robert MacLaurys magnum opus on color naming and cognition.
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)
Since the publication of Brent Berlin and Paul Kay's Basic color terms in 1969 there has been continuing debate as to whether or not there are linguistic universals in the restricted domain of color naming. In this paper I am primarily concerned with the attempt to explain the existence of basic color terms in languages. That project utilizes psychological and ultimately physiological generalizations in the explanation of linguistic regularities. The main problem with this strategy is that it cannot account for (...) a particular subset of basic color words: words that the Berlin-Kay tradition calls “composite”. The existence of such words does not compromise the claim that there are basic color words. It does suggest that such words—and basic terms in general—require a more complex type of explanatory strategy than much contemporary work on color naming supposes. It is my main contention that the central problems with the Berlin-Kay tradition arise from the difficulty of linking conceptually and empirically disparate domains: linguistic, psychological, physiological. What is needed is not an attempt to reduce color naming to biology or to culture but, rather, an adequate conceptual account of how people may come to have and use basic color terms—an account which stands between the biological and the cultural. (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)