Colour layering and colour constancy

Philosophers' Imprint 14 (2014)
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Loosely put, colour constancy for example occurs when you experience a partly shadowed wall to be uniformly coloured, or experience your favourite shirt to be the same colour both with and without sunglasses on. Controversy ensues when one seeks to interpret ‘experience’ in these contexts, for evidence of a constant colour may be indicative a constant colour in the objective world, a judgement that a constant colour would be present were things thus and so, et cetera. My primary aim is to articulate a viable conception of Present Constancy, of what occurs when a constant colour is present in experience, despite the additional presence of some experienced colour variation (e.g., correlating to a change in illumination). My proposed conception involves experienced colour layering – experiencing one opaque colour through another transparent one – and in particular requires one of those experienced layers to remain constant while the other changes. The aim is not to propose this layering conception of colour constancy as the correct interpretation of all constancy cases, but rather to develop the conception enough to demonstrate how it could and plausibly should be applied to various cases, and the virtues it has over rivals. Its virtues include a seamless application to constancy cases involving variations in filters (e.g., sunglasses) and illuminants; its ability to accommodate experiences of partial colours and error-free interpretations of difficult cases; and its broad theoretical-neutrality, allowing it to be incorporated into numerous perceptual epistemologies and ontologies. If layered constancy is prevalent, as I suspect it is, then our experiential access to colours is critically nuanced: we have been plunged into a world of colour without being told that we will rarely, if ever, look to a location and experience just one of them



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Derek H. Brown
University of Glasgow

Citations of this work

A Pluralist Perspective on Shape Constancy.E. J. Green - forthcoming - The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
Colour Relations in Form.Will Davies - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 102 (3):574-594.
Color.Barry Maund - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Perceptual constancy and the dimensions of perceptual experience.John O’Dea - 2020 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 21 (2):421-434.

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