Color Realism

Edited by Alex Byrne (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
About this topic
Summary Color realism is the view that physical objects like lemons and tomatoes are colored, and typically have the colors they appear to have: lemons are yellow, tomatoes are red, and so on. Color realism is opposed to color irrealism (or eliminativism), the view that physical objects are not colored.
Introductions For short overviews of the competing theories of color, see the introduction to Byrne & Hilbert 1997, Hilbert 1998 and Byrne & Hilbert 2002. For a more substantial introduction see Maund 2008. A useful annotated bibliography is Brogaard 2010.
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  1. added 2020-01-03
    True Colours.Jonathan Cohen, C. L. Hardin & Brian P. McLaughlin - 2006 - Analysis 66 (4):335-340.
    (Tye 2006) presents us with the following scenario: John and Jane are both stan- dard human visual perceivers (according to the Ishihara test or the Farnsworth test, for example) viewing the same surface of Munsell chip 527 in standard conditions of visual observation. The surface of the chip looks “true blue” to John (i.e., it looks blue not tinged with any other colour to John), and blue tinged with green to Jane.1 Tye then in effect poses a multiple choice question.
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  2. added 2019-09-10
    A Naïve Realist Theory of Colour By Keith Allen.Eliot Michaelson - 2018 - Analysis 78 (3):580-583.
    A Naïve Realist Theory of Colour By AllenKeithOxford University Press, 2016. x + 204 pp.
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  3. added 2019-08-21
    Is the Eye Like What It Sees? A Critique of Aristotle on Sensing by Assimilation.Mohan Matthen - 2019 - Vivarium 57 (3-4):268-292.
    Aristotle held that perception consists in the reception of external sensory qualities (or sensible forms) in the sensorium. This idea is repeated in many forms in contemporary philosophy, including, with regard to vision, in the idea (still not firmly rejected) that the retinal image consists of points of colour. In fact, this is false. Colour is a quality that is constructed by the visual system, and though it is possible to be a realist about colour, it is completely misleading to (...)
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  4. added 2019-08-02
    Color in a Material World: Margaret Cavendish Against the Early Modern Mechanists.Colin Chamberlain - 2019 - Philosophical Review 128 (3):293-336.
    Consider the distinctive qualitative property grass visually appears to have when it visually appears to be green. This property is an example of what I call sensuous color. Whereas early modern mechanists typically argue that bodies are not sensuously colored, Margaret Cavendish disagrees. In cases of veridical perception, she holds that grass is green in precisely the way it visually appears to be. In defense of her realist approach to sensuous colors, Cavendish argues that it is impossible to conceive of (...)
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  5. added 2019-07-17
    The Myth of the Common Sense Conception of Color.Zed Adams & Nat Hansen - forthcoming - In Asa Maria Wikforss & Teresa Marques (eds.), Shifting Concepts: The Philosophy and Psychology of Conceptual Variability. Oxford University Press.
    Some philosophical theories of the nature of color aim to respect a "common sense" conception of color: aligning with the common sense conception is supposed to speak in favor of a theory and conflicting with it is supposed to speak against a theory. In this paper, we argue that the idea of a "common sense" conception of color that philosophers of color have relied upon is overly simplistic. By drawing on experimental and historical evidence, we show how conceptions of color (...)
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  6. added 2019-06-06
    Précis of The Quest for Reality.Barry Stroud - 2004 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68 (2):384-386.
    In The Quest for Reality I investigate the prospects of achieving a certain kind of general philosophical understanding of ourselves and the world. The idea is to determine how much of our everyday conception of the world is due to the way the world actually is and how much is due only to us. The answer would tell us how things really are, or what is really so, independently of any special human ‘perspective’ we happen to have on the world, (...)
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  7. added 2019-06-06
    Reality and Colours: Comment on Stroud.John McDowell - 2004 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68 (2):395-400.
    Any brief comment on Barry Stroud’s fine book risks bringing some of its virtues into relief precisely by lacking them. The book’s epigraph is a passage from Wittgenstein advising philosophers to take their time. Stroud never papers over difficulties, and he allows himself to be sketchy only when it does not matter for the main line of his argument. Anyone without space constraints should take him as a model. Pleading space constraints, I shall sketch two reservations.
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  8. added 2019-06-06
    Have Byrne & Hilbert Answered Hardin's Challenge?Adam Pautz - 2003 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26 (1):44-45.
    I argue that Byrne and Hilbert have not answered Hardin’s objection to physicalism about color concerning the unitary-binary structure of the colors for two reasons. First, their account of unitary-binary structure seems unsatisfactory. Second, _pace_ Byrne and Hilbert, there are no physicalistically acceptable candidates to be the hue- magnitudes. I conclude with a question about the justification of physicalism about color.
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  9. added 2019-06-06
    STROUD, BARRY: "Significance of Philosophical Scepticism". [REVIEW]Paul K. Moser - 1986 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 37:235.
  10. added 2019-04-15
    World to Word: Nomenclature Systems of Color and Species.Tanya Kelley - 2017 - Dissertation, University Of Missouri
    As the digitization of information accelerates, the push to encode our surrounding numerically instead of linguistically increases. The role that language has traditionally played in the nomenclature of an integrative taxonomy is being replaced by the numeric identification of one or few quantitative characteristics. Nineteenth-century scientific systems of color identification divided, grouped, and named colors according to multiple characteristics. Now color identification relies on numeric values applied to spectrographic readings. This means of identification of color lacks the taxonomic rigor of (...)
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  11. added 2019-01-10
    Colour.Laura Gow - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (11):803-813.
    The view that physical objects do not, in fact, possess colour properties is certainly the dominant position amongst scientists working on colour vision. It is also a reasonably popular view amongst philosophers. However, the recent philosophical debate about the metaphysical status of colour properties seems to have taken a more realist turn. In this article, I review the main philosophical views – eliminativism, physicalism, dispositionalism and primitivism – and describe the problems they face. I also examine how these views have (...)
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  12. added 2018-03-16
    Seeing White and Wrong: Reid on the Role of Sensations in Perception, with a Focus on Color Perception.Lucas Thorpe - 2015 - In Rebecca Copenhaver & Todd Buras (eds.), Thomas Reid on Mind, Knowledge, and Value (Mind Association Occasional Series). Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 100-123.
  13. added 2018-03-15
    Color, Externalism, and Switch Cases.David Bain - 2007 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 45 (3):335-362.
    I defend externalism about color experiences and color thoughts, which I argue color objectivism requires. Externalists face the following question: would a subject’s wearing inverting lenses eventually change the color content of, for instance, those visual experiences the subject reports with “red”? From the work of Ned Block, David Velleman, Paul Boghossian, Michael Tye, and Fiona Macpherson, I extract problems facing those who answer “Yes” and problems facing those who answer “No.” I show how these problems can be overcome, leaving (...)
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  14. added 2018-02-17
    Seeking The Real.Paul Boghossian - 2002 - Philosophical Studies 108 (1):223-238.
    A critical discussion of Barry Stroud's claim, in his book "The Quest for Reality", that we could never rationally arrive at the conclusion that, for example, the world is not really colored.
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  15. added 2018-02-07
    Thomas Reid and the Problem of Secondary Qualities.Christopher A. Shrock - 2017 - Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
    With a new reading of Thomas Reid on primary and secondary qualities, Christopher A. Shrock illuminates the Common Sense theory of perception. Shrock follow's Reid's lead in defending common sense philosophy against the problem of secondary qualities, which claims that our perceptions are only experiences in our brains, not of the world.
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  16. added 2017-09-19
    Realism, Relativism, Adverbialism: How Different Are They? Comments on Mazviita Chirimuuta's Outside Color.Mohan Matthen - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 95 (1):236-243.
    Mazviita Chirimuuta proposes a new “adverbialist” ontology of color. I argue that ontological disputes in the philosophy of color are uniformly terminological. Chirimuuta's proposal too is a terminological variant on others, though it has some hortatory value in directing attention to aspects of color science that have hitherto been neglected. On a side note, I also take issue with Chirimuuta's laudatory take on early modern theories of color.
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  17. added 2017-08-07
    Revised: From Color, to Consciousness, Toward Strong AI.Xinyuan Gu - manuscript
    This article cohesively discusses three topics, namely color and its perception, the yet-to-be-solved hard problem of consciousness, and the theoretical possibility of strong AI. First, the article restores color back into the physical world by giving cross-species evidence. Secondly, the article proposes a dual-field with function Q hypothesis (DFFQ) which might explain the ‘first-person point of view’ and so the hard problem of consciousness. Finally, the article discusses what DFFQ might bring to artificial intelligence and how it might allow strong (...)
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  18. added 2017-07-26
    Yellow is Not a Color.Christopher A. Shrock - 2012 - Southwest Philosophical Studies 34:58-64.
  19. added 2017-07-26
    Reid, Aristotle, and Color.Christopher A. Shrock - 2010 - Southwest Philosophical Studies 32.
  20. added 2017-05-06
    A New Argument From Interpersonal Variation to Subjectivism About Color: A Response to Gómez‐Torrente.Nat Hansen - 2017 - Noûs 51 (2):421-428.
    I describe a new, comparative, version of the argument from interpersonal variation to subjectivism about color. The comparative version undermines a recent objectivist response to standard versions of that argument.
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  21. added 2017-04-03
    Invisible Disagreement: An Inverted Qualia Argument for Realism.Justin Donhauser - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (3):593-606.
    Scientific realists argue that a good track record of multi-agent, and multiple method, validation of empirical claims is itself evidence that those claims, at least partially and approximately, reflect ways nature actually is independent of the ways we conceptualize it. Constructivists contend that successes in validating empirical claims only suffice to establish that our ways of modelling the world, our “constructions,” are useful and adequate for beings like us. This essay presents a thought experiment in which beings like us intersubjectively (...)
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  22. added 2017-02-03
    Blue Sky Thoughts: Colour, Consciosness and Reality.Jamie Carnie - 2007 - Marion Boyars.
  23. added 2017-01-29
    STROUD, B.: "Hume". [REVIEW]Leslie Stevenson - 1978 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 29:398.
  24. added 2016-12-12
    True Blue Redux.M. Tye - 2007 - Analysis 67 (1):92-93.
    A chip looks true blue to John and greenish blue to Jane. On the face of it, at least one of the two perceivers has an inaccurate colour experience; for the chip cannot be both true blue and greenish blue. But John and Jane are “normal” perceivers, and there is no privileged class of normal perceivers (Block 1999). This is the puzzle of true blue (Tye.
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  25. added 2016-12-12
    Truest Blue.A. Byrne & D. R. Hilbert - 2007 - Analysis 67 (1):87-92.
    1. The “puzzle” Physical objects are coloured: roses are red, violets are blue, and so forth. In particular, physical objects have fine-grained shades of colour: a certain chip, we can suppose, is true blue (unique, or pure blue). The following sort of scenario is commonplace. The chip looks true blue to John; in the same (ordinary) viewing conditions it looks (slightly) greenish-blue to Jane. Both John and Jane are “normal” perceivers. Now, nothing can be both true blue and greenish-blue; since (...)
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  26. added 2016-12-08
    Comments on Cohen, Mizrahi, Maund, and Levine.Alex Byrne - 2006 - Dialectica 60:223-244.
    Cohen begins by defining ‘Color Physicalism’ so that the position is incompatible with Color Relationalism (unlike Byrne and Hilbert 2003, 7, and note 18). Physicalism, in any event, is something of a distraction, since Cohen’s argument from perceptual variation is directed against any view on which minor color misperception is common (Byrne and Hilbert 2004). A typical color primitivist, for example, is equally vulnerable to the argument. Suppose that normal human observers S1 and S2 are viewing a chip C, as (...)
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  27. added 2016-12-08
    A Spectral Reflectance Doth Not A Color Make.C. L. Hardin - 2003 - Journal of Philosophy 100 (4):191-202.
  28. added 2016-12-08
    Of Colors, Kestrels, Caterpillars, and Leaves.Peter Bradly & Michael Tye - 2001 - Journal of Philosophy 98 (9):469.
    According to color realism, object colors are mind-independent properties that cover surfaces or permeate volumes of objects. In recent years, some color scientists and a growing number of philosophers have opposed this view on the grounds that realism about color cannot accommodate the apparent unitary/binary structure of the hues. For example, Larry Hardin asserts, the unitary-binary structure of the colors as we experience them corresponds to no known physical structure lying outside nervous systems that is causally involved in the perception (...)
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  29. added 2016-12-05
    Hardin, Tye, and Color Physicalism.David R. Hilbert - 2004 - Journal of Philosophy 101 (1):37 - 43.
    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 color with the (...)
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  30. added 2016-09-16
    Color Ontology and Color Science.Jonathan Cohen & Mohan Matthen (eds.) - 2010 - Bradford.
    Philosophers and scientists have long speculated about the nature of color. Atomists such as Democritus thought color to be "conventional," not real; Galileo and other key figures of the Scientific Revolution thought that it was an erroneous projection of our own sensations onto external objects. More recently, philosophers have enriched the debate about color by aligning the most advanced color science with the most sophisticated methods of analytical philosophy. In this volume, leading scientists and philosophers examine new problems with new (...)
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  31. added 2016-09-16
    The Red and the Real: An Essay on Color Ontology.Jonathan Cohen - 2009 - Oxford University Press UK.
    Color provides an instance of a general puzzle about how to reconcile the picture of the world given to us by our ordinary experience with the picture of the world given to us by our best theoretical accounts. The Red and the Real offers a new approach to such longstanding philosophical puzzles about what colors are and how they fit into nature. It is responsive to a broad range of constraints --- both the ordinary constraints of color experience and the (...)
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  32. added 2016-09-16
    The Truth About 'The Truth About True Blue'.J. Cohen, C. L. Hardin & B. P. McLaughlin - 2007 - Analysis 67 (2):162-166.
  33. added 2016-06-17
    Die Natur der Farben.Fabian Dorsch - 2009 - De Gruyter.
    Farben sind für uns sowohl objektive, als auch phänomenale Eigenschaften. In seinem Buch argumentiert Fabian Dorsch, daß keine ontologische Theorie der Farben diesen beiden Seiten unseres Farbbegriffes gerecht werden k ann. Statt dessen sollten wir akzeptieren, daß letzterer sich auf zwei verschiedene Arten von Eigenschaften bezieht: die repräsentierten Reflektanzeigenschaften von Gegenständen und die qualitativen Eigenschaften unserer Farbwahrnehmungen, die als sinnliche Gegebenheitsweisen ersterer fungieren. Die Natur der Farben gibt einen detaillierten Überblick über die zeitgenössischen philosophischen und naturwissenschaftlichen Theorien der Farben und (...)
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  34. added 2016-06-15
    Colour Resemblance and Colour Realism.Fabian Dorsch - 2010 - Rivista di Estetica 43:85-108.
    One prominent ambition of theories of colour is to pay full justice to how colours are subjectively given to us; and another to reconcile this first-personal perspective on colours with the third-personal one of the natural sciences. The goal of this article is to question whether we can satisfy the second ambition on the assumption that the first should and can be met. I aim to defend a negative answer to this question by arguing that the various kinds of experienced (...)
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  35. added 2015-12-01
    Objectivism About Color and Comparative Color Statements. Reply to Hansen.Mario Gómez-Torrente - 2017 - Noûs 51 (2):429-435.
    Nat Hansen builds a new argument for subjectivism about the semantics of color language, based on a potential kind of intersubjective disagreements about comparative color statements. In reply, I note that the disagreements of this kind are merely hypothetical, probably few if actual, and not evidently relevant as test cases for a semantic theory. Furthermore, even if they turned out to be actual and semantically relevant, they would be intuitively unusable by the subjectivist.
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  36. added 2015-09-18
    Parsing the Rainbow.Pendaran Roberts - 2014 - Synthese 191 (8):1793-1811.
    Navigating the ontology of color used to be a simple affair. There was the naive view that colors really are in objects the way they appear, and the view that they are secondary qualities to cause certain experiences in us. Today, there are myriad well-developed views but no satisfactory taxonomy of philosophical theories on color. In this article, I first examine the two newest taxonomies on offer and argue that they are inadequate. In particular, I look at Brogaard’s taxonomy and (...)
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  37. added 2015-09-18
    Color Relationalism, Ordinary Illusion, and Color Incompatibility.Pendaran Roberts - 2014 - Philosophia 42 (4):1085-1097.
    Relationalism is a view popularized by Cohen according to which the colors are relational properties. Cohen’s view has the unintuitive consequence that the following propositions are false: (i) no object can be more than one determinate or determinable color all over at the same time; (ii) ordinary illusion cases occur whenever the color perceptually represented conflicts, according to (i) above, with the object’s real color; and (iii) the colors we perceive obey (i). I investigate Cohen’s attempt to address these intuitive (...)
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  38. added 2015-09-03
    Perceptual Variation, Color Language, and Reference Fixing. An Objectivist Account.Mario Gómez-Torrente - 2016 - Noûs 50 (1):3-40.
    I offer a new objectivist theory of the contents of color language and color experience, intended especially as an account of what normal intersubjective variation in color perception and classification shows about those contents. First I explain an abstract account of the contents of color and other gradable adjectives; on the account, these contents are certain objective properties constituted in part by contextually intended standards of application, which are in turn values in the dimensions of variation associated with the adjectives. (...)
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  39. added 2015-04-05
    Erik Palmstierna, Horizons of Immortality: A Quest for Reality. [REVIEW]C. A. F. Rhys Davids - 1937 - Hibbert Journal 36:311.
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  40. added 2015-03-19
    The Quest for Reality: Subjectivism and the Metaphysics of Colour.Raymond Woller - 2001 - Review of Metaphysics 54 (3):687-689.
    In this book, Stroud argues that we have no good reason for subjectivism about colorsfor believing that colors are not part of the objective, mind-independent, real world. The book is not succinctly argued, nor is it intended to be, given its epigraph from Wittgenstein: This is how philosophers should salute each other: Take your time! The books leisurely, discursive, and explicitly undogmatic treatment makes for a fascinating and pleasant read.
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  41. added 2014-12-23
    Color Perception: Philosophical, Psychological, Artistic, and Computational Perspectives.Davis Steven (ed.) - 2000 - New York: Oxford University Press.
    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 color perception with the (...)
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  42. added 2014-11-13
    Unique Hues and Colour Experience.Mohan Matthen - forthcoming - In Fiona Macpherson & Derek Brown (eds.), Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Colour.
    In this Handbook entry, I review how colour similarity spaces are constructed, first for physical sources of colour and secondly for colour as it is perceptually experienced. The unique hues are features of one of the latter constructions, due initially to Hering and formalized in the Swedish Natural Colour System. I review the evidence for a physiological basis for the unique hues. Finally, I argue that Tye's realist approach to the unique hues is a mistake.
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  43. added 2014-04-01
    Visible Properties of Human Interest Only.Allan Gibbard - 1996 - Philosophical Issues 7:199-208.
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  44. added 2014-03-31
    Constant Colors in the Head.James A. McGilvray - 1994 - Synthese 100 (2):197-239.
    I defend a version of color subjectivism — that colors are sortals for certain neural events — by arguing against a sophisticated form of color objectivism and by showing how a subjectivist can legitimately explain the phenomenal fact that colors seem to be properties of external objects.
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  45. added 2014-03-31
    What is Color Vision?David R. Hilbert - 1992 - Philosophical Studies 68 (3):351-70.
    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 (...)
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  46. added 2014-03-28
    The Disunity of Color.Mohan Matthen - 1999 - Philosophical Review 108 (1):47-84.
    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: color vision consists in the use of (...)
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  47. added 2014-03-25
    Color Realism: Toward a Solution to the "Hard Problem".Nigel J. T. Thomas - 2001 - Consciousness and Cognition 10 (1):140-145.
    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 (...)
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  48. added 2014-03-25
    Ontology, Causality and Mind: Essays in Honour of D M Armstrong.John Bacon, Keith Campbell & Lloyd Reinhardt (eds.) - 1993 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
    D. M. Armstrong is an eminent Australian philosopher whose work over many years has dealt with such subjects as: the nature of possibility, concepts of the particular and the general, causes and laws of nature, and the nature of human consciousness. This collection of essays explores the many facets of Armstrong's work, concentrating on his more recent interests. There are four sections to the book: possibility and identity, universals, laws and causality, and philosophy of mind. The contributors comprise an international (...)
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  49. added 2014-03-18
    Color Objectivism and Color Pluralism.Vivian Mizrahi - 2006 - Dialectica 60 (3):283-306.
    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 (...)
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  50. added 2014-03-18
    Explaining the Quest and its Prospects: Reply to Boghossian and Byrne.Barry Stroud - 2002 - Philosophical Studies 108 (1-2):239-247.
    A brief description of the goal and main lines of argument of The Quest for Reality, in reply to the responses of Paul Boghossian and Alex Byrne.
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1 — 50 / 93