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Color

Edited by Alex Byrne (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
About this topic
Summary The central issue in the philosophy of color concerns the nature of colors—for instance, whether they are physical properties of some sort—and whether ordinary objects like tomatoes and lemons really are colored. Color serves as a relatively tractable test case for a variety of issues in the philosophy of perception, epistemology, and metaphysics.
Key works Perhaps the most influential recent book on the general topic of color is Hardin 1988. Other important books are Stroud 2000 and Cohen 2009. A collection of central papers in the philosophy of color is Byrne & Hilbert 1997; Byrne & Hilbert 1997 is a companion volume on color science.
Introductions For short overviews of the competing theories of color, see the introduction to Byrne & Hilbert 1997, Byrne & Hilbert 2002 and Pautz 2009. For a more substantial introduction see Maund 2008. A useful annotated bibliography is Brogaard 2010.
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  1. Zahra Abdollah (2011). Color in Islamic Theosophy. Journal of Islamic Philosophy 7:35-51.
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  2. Barbara Abou-El-Haj (2011). Kathleen Ashley and Marilyn Deegan, Being a Pilgrim: Art and Ritual on the Medieval Routes to Santiago. Farnham, Eng., and Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2009. Pp. 264; Color Frontispiece, Many Black-and-White and Color Figures, and Color Maps. $60. [REVIEW] Speculum 86 (1):157-159.
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  3. I. Abramov & J. Gordon (1997). Constraining Color Categories: The Problem of the Baby and the Bath Water. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 20 (2):179-180.
    No crucial experiment demonstrates that four hue categories are needed to describe color appearance. Instead, converging lines of evidence suggest that the terms red, yellow, green, and blue are sufficient and precise enough for deriving color discrimination functions and for a useful model constraining relations between color appearance and neuronal responses. Such a model need not be based on linguistic universals. Until something better is available, this holds.
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  4. Zed Adams (2015). On the Genealogy of Color: A Case Study in Historicized Conceptual Analysis. Routledge.
    In On the Genealogy of Color , Zed Adams challenges widely held philosophical views about the nature of color, exploring the relevance of the history of color science for contemporary debates in color realism/anti-realism and philosophy of mind. Adams argues that the two sides of the contemporary debate on the problem of color realism, Cartesian anti-realism and Oxford realism, are both predicated on an assumption that the concept of color perception is ahistorical and unrevisable. Adams takes issue with this premise (...)
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  5. Peter Adamson (2006). Vision, Light and Color in Al-Kindi, Ptolemy and the Ancient Commentators. Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 16 (2):207-236.
    Al-Kindi was influenced by two Greek traditions in his attempts to explain vision, light and color. Most obviously, his works on optics are indebted to Euclid and, perhaps indirectly, to Ptolemy. But he also knew some works from the Aristotelian tradition that touch on the nature of color and vision. Al-Kindi explicitly rejects the Aristotelian account of vision in his De Aspectibus, and adopts a theory according to which we see by means of a visual ray emitted from the eye. (...)
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  6. Luis U. Afonso & Débora Matos (2013). The Book of ‘How to Make Colours’ and the ‘Schedula Diversarum Artium’. In Andreas Speer (ed.), Zwischen Kunsthandwerk Und Kunst: Die ,Schedula Diversarum Artium'. De Gruyter. pp. 305-318.
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  7. K. A. Akins & M. Hahn (2014). More Than Mere Colouring: The Role of Spectral Information in Human Vision. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (1):125-171.
    A common view in both philosophy and the vision sciences is that, in human vision, wavelength information is primarily ‘for’ colouring: for seeing surfaces and various media as having colours. In this article we examine this assumption of ‘colour-for-colouring’. To motivate the need for an alternative theory, we begin with three major puzzles from neurophysiology, puzzles that are not explained by the standard theory. We then ask about the role of wavelength information in vision writ large. How might wavelength information (...)
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  8. Kathleen Akins & Martin Hahn (2000). Color Perception: Philosophical, Psychological, Artistic, and Computational Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press.
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  9. Kathleen Akins & Martin Hahn (2000). The Peculiarity of Color. In Color Perception: Philosophical, Psychological, Artistic, and Computational Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press.
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  10. Miri Albahari (1999). Objective Colours and Evolutionary Value: A Reply to Dedrick. Dialogue 38 (1):99-108.
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  11. Josef Albers (1963). The Interaction of Color. Yale University Press.
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  12. Virgil C. Aldrich (1952). Colors as Universals. Philosophical Review 61 (3):377-381.
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  13. Lg Allan, S. Siegel & G. Macqueen (1987). Color Contingent on Words. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 25 (5):339-339.
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  14. Norm R. Allen Jr (2013). The “Color” of Humanism: Personal Reflections on a Global Reality. Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism 20 (1):31-38.
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  15. Charles Grant B. Allen (1879). The Colour Sense.
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  16. G. Allen (1878). The Development of the Colour-Sense. Mind 3:129.
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  17. Grant Allen (1879). The Colour-Sense: Its Origin and Development. Mind 4 (15):415-421.
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  18. Grant Allen (1878). Development of the Sense of Colour. Mind 3 (9):129-132.
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  19. Keith Allen (2012). Colour, Contextualism, and Self-Locating Contents. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 12 (3):331-350.
    This paper considers two accounts of the way that colours are represented in perception, thought, and language that are consistent with relationalist theories of colour: Jonathan Cohen’s contextualist semantics for colour ascriptions, and Andy Egan’s suggestion that colour ascriptions have self-locating contents. I argue that colours are not represented in perception, thought, or language as mind-dependent relational properties.
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  20. Keith Malcolm Allen, Review of The Quest for Reality, by Barry Stroud. [REVIEW]
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  21. Nick Allen (1998). Varnas, Colours, and Functions. Zeitschrift für Religionswissenschaft 6 (2):163-178.
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  22. Sarah R. Allred & Jonathan I. Flombaum (2014). Relating Color Working Memory and Color Perception. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 18 (11):562-565.
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  23. Mary Almack & G. F. Arps (1916). On Color Induction with Reference to Color Recognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology 1 (5):426.
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  24. M. Almeida & Lucky Libertarianism (2003). Jonathan Cohen/Color: A Functionalist Proposal 1–42 Ray Buchanan/Are Truth and Reference Quasi-Disquotational? 43–75 Matthew Davidson/Presentism and the Non-Present 77–92. [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 113:291-292.
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  25. Kirk Ambrose (2013). Alain Mercier, La deuxième fille de Cluny: Grandeurs et misères de Saint-Martin-des-Champs. Grenoble: Glénat, 2012. Pp. 576; many color figures. €59. ISBN: 9782355450082. [REVIEW] Speculum 88 (4):1128-1130.
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  26. Jefferey Anderson (1998). The Color of Ivory: Polychromy on Byzantine Ivories. [REVIEW] The Medieval Review 12.
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  27. Tiffany M. B. Anderson (2013). Alice Walker – The Color Purple: A Reader's Guide to Essential Criticism. The European Legacy 18 (3):371-372.
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  28. Denise Angers (1985). Noël Coulet, Alice Planche, and Françoise Robin, Le Roì René: Le Prince, le Mécène, l'Écrivain, le Mythe. Aix-En-Provence: Edisud, 1982. Pp. 246; 72 Illustrations . F 125. [REVIEW] Speculum 60 (1):219-220.
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  29. Gabriele De Anna (2002). The Simple View of Colours and the Reference of Perceptual Terms. Philosophy 77 (299):87 - 108.
    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 (...)
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  30. Gabriele Anndea (2002). The Simple View of Colours and the Reference of Perceptual Terms. Philosophy 77 (1):87-108.
    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 (...)
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  31. G. E. M. Anscombe, Linda L. McAlister & Margarete Schättle (eds.) (2007). Remarks on Colour. University of California Press.
    This book comprises material on colour which was written by Wittgenstein in the last eighteen months of his life. It is one of the few documents which shows him concentratedly at work on a single philosophical issue. The principal theme is the features of different colours, of different kinds of colour and of luminosity—a theme which Wittgenstein treats in such a way as to destroy the traditional idea that colour is a simple and logically uniform kind of thing. This edition (...)
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  32. G. E. M. Anscombe, Linda L. McAlister & Margarete Schattle (eds.) (1991). Remarks on Colour. Wiley-Blackwell.
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  33. Crista Arangala & Michael O' Brien (forthcoming). Playing Three Color Light's Out with Langton's Turmite. Complexity.
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  34. David M. Armstrong (1993). Reply to Campbell. In John Bacon, Keith Campbell & Lloyd Reinhardt (eds.), Ontology, Causality and Mind: Essays in Honour of D M Armstrong. New York: Cambridge University Press.
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  35. B. M. Arthadeva (1961). Naive Realism and the Problem of Color-Seeing in Dim Light. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 21 (June):467-478.
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  36. J. Aumont (1994). Introduction À la Couleur des Discours aux Images.
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  37. Edward W. Averill (1985). Color and the Anthropocentric Problem. Journal of Philosophy 82 (June):281-303.
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  38. Edward Wilson Averill (2005). Toward a Projectivist Account of Color. Journal of Philosophy 102 (5):217-234.
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  39. Edward Wilson Averill (2003). Perceptual Variation and Access to Colors. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26 (1):22-22.
    To identify the set of reflectances that constitute redness, the authors must first determine which surfaces are red. They do this by relying on widespread agreement among us. However, arguments based on the possible ways in which humans would perceive colors show that mere widespread agreement among us is not a satisfactory way to determine which surfaces are red.
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  40. Edward Wilson Averill, C. L. Hardin & David R. Hilbert (1991). Color for Philosophers: Unweaving the Rainbow.Color and Color Perception: A Study in Anthropocentric Realism. Philosophical Review 100 (3):459.
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  41. Edward Wilson Averill & Allan Hazlett (2011). Color Objectivism and Color Projectivism. Philosophical Psychology 24 (6):751 - 765.
    Objectivism and projectivism are standardly taken to be incompatible theories of color. Here we argue that this incompatibility is only apparent: objectivism and projectivism, properly articulated so as to deal with basic objections, are in fundamental agreement about the ontology of color and the phenomenology of color perception.
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  42. Jere L. Bacharach (2009). Emmanuel Azzopardi, Coinage of the Crusaders and the World of Islam. Main Photography and Design by Daniel Cilia. Sta. Venera, Malta: Midsea Books, 2006. Pp. 304; Many Black-and-White and Color Figures, 8 Color Plates, and Color Maps. $156. Distributed by the David Brown Book Company, PO Box 511, 28 Main St., Oakville, CT 06779. [REVIEW] Speculum 84 (1):112-113.
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  43. Gi-Yeul Bae, Maria Olkkonen, Sarah R. Allred & Jonathan I. Flombaum (2015). Why Some Colors Appear More Memorable Than Others: A Model Combining Categories and Particulars in Color Working Memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 144 (4):744-763.
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  44. Victoria K. Ball (1965). The Aesthetics of Color: A Review of Fifty Years of Experimentation. [REVIEW] Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 23 (4):441-452.
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  45. Tomasz Basiuk (2013). Guest Editor's Introduction. Dialogue and Universalism 20 (5/6):5-8.
    Since our visual perception of physical things essentially involves our identifying objects by their colours, any theory of visual perception must contain some account of the colours of things. The central problem with colour has to do with relating our normal, everyday colour perceptions to what science, i.e. physics, teaches us about physical objects and their qualities. Although we perceive colours as categorical surface properties of things, colour perceptions are explained by introducing physical properties like reflectance profiles or dispositions to (...)
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  46. David Batchelor (2000). Chromophobia.
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  47. Pilar Fernández Beites (1999). Fenomenología del color. El problema de las sensaciones visuales. Escritos de Filosofía 18 (35):262-284.
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  48. Elena Bellomo (2006). Barbara Frale, I Templari. (Intersezioni, 267.) Bologna: Il Mulino, 2004. Paper. Pp. 193 Plus Color Plates. €11.50. Speculum 81 (1):188-189.
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  49. Tony Belpaeme (2008). Insights From the Colour Category Controversy. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 31 (1):75-76.
    There are striking parallels between the basic tastes debate and the debate on human colour categorisation. Colour categories show a remarkable cross-cultural similarity, but at the same the time exhibit seemingly inexplicable large interpersonal variations. Recent results suggest that colour categories are the result of cultural learning constrained by the neural substrate of colour perception.
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  50. Hagit Benbaji (2015). Why Colour Primitivism? Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (2):243-265.
    Primitivism is the view that colors are sui generis properties of physical objects. The basic insight underlying primitivism is that colours are as we see them, i.e. they are categorical properties of physical objects—simple, monadic, constant, etc.—just like shapes. As such, they determine the content of colour experience. Accepting the premise that colours are sui generis properties of physical objects, this paper seeks to show that ascribing primitive properties to objects is, ipso facto, ascribing to objects irreducible dispositions to look (...)
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