Colour, world and archimedean metaphysics: Stroud and the Quest for reality [Book Review]

Erkenntnis 66 (1-2):27-71 (2007)
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Barry Stroud’s book _The Quest for Reality_1 is, I think, the most substantial study of colour realism that has yet been written. It subjects to fundamental criticism a tradition that found its classic expression in Descartes and Locke and which in many ways remains standard today; it argues to be flawed not only the traditional rejection of colours as mere ideas or features of ideas in the mind, but also the view that colours are dispositions or powers in objects to produce ideas in us—which in other quarters sometimes passes as a form of colour realism. Stroud rejects subjectivism, dispositionalism, relativism, and reductionism; but he is deliberately reticent about offering any positive account of what we believe to exist when believe colours to exist (after all, he says, in quiet allusion to Butler, everything is what it is and not another thing). And he is resolute in denying that we can give a philosophical argument to establish such belief as true. Stroud’s general conclusion can be seen as occupying a middle ground between what we might call dogmatic anti-realism and dogmatic realism. He argues (in Ch. 7) that anti-realism (or what Stroud calls the ‘unmasking’ of colours) is a view that cannot be affirmed without a kind of self-refutation—for ‘no one could abandon all beliefs about the colours of things and still _understand_ the colour terms’ (168, my emphasis). On the other hand (in Ch. 9), it remains in some sense a ‘possibility’ (204) that everyday colour beliefs might actually all be false. Stroud’s final judgment is not that we shall or should abandon the ‘Quest for Reality’, though he has expressed many reservations about it.2 The.



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Justin Broackes
Brown University

Citations of this work

The mind-independence of colour.Keith Allen - 2007 - European Journal of Philosophy 15 (2):137–158.
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On the Asymmetry between Twin Earth and Inverted Earth.Hagit Benbaji - 2018 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (S1):137-150.

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