True colors: A problem for Tye's color realism


Michael Tye has recently been a vocal defender of color realism or, as I shall call it, color objectivism. Objectivism about color is the view that color properties are identical to intrinsic physical properties of the surfaces of objects. Subjectivism about color is the denial of color objectivism. Objectivists argue that color claims must be taken at face value. In this paper I forego the usual bickering about whether there are surface reflectance properties that can be identified with colors as the objectivist theory requires. Supposing that some such properties could be found, I argue that if objectivism about color were correct it would have the unsavory consequence that we are rarely if ever right—perhaps never right—about the particular colors of particular things. So objectivism does not bear out common attribution of colors to the surfaces of things, after all.



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Tom Polger
University of Cincinnati

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