Proving universalism wrong does not prove relativism right: Considerations on the ongoing color categorization debate
Philosophical Psychology 27 (3):401-424 (2014)
AbstractFor over a century, the question of the relation of language to thought has been extensively discussed in the case of color categorization, where two main views prevail. The relativist view claims that color categories are relative while the universalistic view argues that color categories are universal. Relativists also argue that color categories are linguistically determined, and universalists that they are perceptually determined. Recently, the argument for the perceptual determination of color categorization has been undermined, and the relativist view has regained some ground. This paper argues that although the universalistic account of color categorization has been called into question, this is not enough to establish relativism. Color categories can still be said to be universal or particular, independent of the accounts of their universality or relativity. Because of its polarization, the debate has disregarded some issues that are key in our understanding of color categorization: the question of what a color category is and how to identify it.
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