The target article is an attempt to make some progress on the problem of color realism. Are objects colored? And what is the nature of the color properties? We defend the view that physical objects (for instance, tomatoes, radishes, and rubies) are colored, and that colors are physical properties, specifically types of reflectance. This is probably a minority opinion, at least among color scientists. Textbooks frequently claim that physical objects are not colored, and that the colors are "subjective" or "in (...) the mind." The article has two other purposes: first, to introduce an interdisciplinary audience to some distinctively philosophical tools that are useful in tackling the problem of color realism and, second, to clarify the various positions and central arguments in the debate. (shrink)
The typical kind of color realism is reductive: the color properties are identified with properties specified in other terms (as ways of altering light, for instance). If no reductive analysis is available — if the colors are primitive sui generis properties — this is often taken to be a convincing argument for eliminativism. That is, realist primitivism is usually thought to be untenable. The realist preference for reductive theories of color over the last few decades is particularly striking in light (...) of the generally anti-reductionist mood of recent philosophy of mind. The parallels between the mind—body problem and the case of color are substantial enough that the difference in trajectory is surprising. While dualism and non-reductive physicalism are staples, realist primitivism is by and large a recent addition to the color literature. And it remains a minority position, although one that is perhaps gaining support. In this paper, we investigate whether it should be accepted, and conclude it should not be. (shrink)
When we open our eyes, the world seems full of colored opaque objects, light sources, and transparent volumes. One historically popular view, _eliminativism_, is that the world is not in this respect as it appears to be: nothing has any color. Color _realism_, the denial of eliminativism, comes in three mutually exclusive varieties, which may be taken to exhaust the space of plausible realist theories. Acccording to _dispositionalism_, colors are _psychological_ dispositions: dispositions to produce certain kinds of visual experiences. According (...) to both _primitivism_ and _physicalism_, colors are not psychological dispositions; they differ in that primitivism says that no reductive analysis of the colors is possible, whereas physicalism says that they are physical properties. This paper is a defense of physicalism about color. (shrink)
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 (...) the chip is true blue, it is not greenish-blue. Hence Jane, unlike John, is misperceiving the chip. Generalizing, the conclusion is that there is widespread misperception of fine-grained shades. According to Tye (2006), and Cohen, Hardin, and McLaughlin (2006), the previous paragraph amounts to a paradox: an apparently unacceptable conclusion has been drawn from apparently acceptable premises via apparently acceptable reasoning. (See also Hawthorne and Kovakovich 2006, 180-1.) Tye swallows the conclusion, aided by a dose of evolutionary speculation. Hardin (1988), on the other hand, rejects the first premise, and denies that physical objects are coloured. Cohen (2004) and McLaughlin (2003) claim that both Jane and John have the colour of the chip right. Our opening paragraph concealed a crucial parameter. In fact, the chip looks greenish-blue-relative-to- circumstances-C to Jane, and true-blue-relative-to-circumstances-C* to John, and the chip has both these relativized colours.1 All this ingenious philosophizing would be in vain, of course, if the conclusion of the opening paragraph were not puzzling or problematic. So, why is it supposed to be? According to Tye, the conclusion is puzzling because John and Jane are both “normal perceivers” (xx). He seems to think that it is (prima facie) plausible to assume.. (shrink)
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 (...) be rejected in spite of whatever reasons can be given for their apparent acceptability. Before going on to discuss possible resolutions of this apparent contradiction it is worth pointing out there our three propositions are not all of a kind. Proposition 1) is a metaphysical thesis about the ontological status of color and proposition 3) is an empirical thesis about what properties organisms with color vision are capable of detecting. If you accept 1) then 2) will appear to verge on the trivial, but if 1) is denied then the status of 2) will appear more problematic. In what follows I will have more to say about why we either should or should not accept all three of these propositions. (shrink)
This paper critically examines color relationalism and color relativism, two theories of color that are allegedly supported by variation in normal human color vision. We mostly discuss color relationalism, defended at length in Jonathan Cohen's The Red and the Real, and argue that the theory has insuperable problems.
The realist preference for reductive theories of color over the last few decades is particularly striking in light of the generally anti-reductionist mood of recent philosophy of mind. The parallels between the mind-body problem and the case of color are substantial enough that the difference in trajectory is surprising. While dualism and non-.
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 (...) reflecting properties of objects (“reflectance physicalism”). Specifically, the determinate and determinable colors are identified with types of reflectances. (Setting some complications aside, the reflectance of an object is the proportion of light that it reflects at each wavelength in the visible spectrum.) These reflectance types are, in the terminology of Hilbert, anthropocentric—in the terminology of Lewis6, they are not very “natural”. (shrink)
We can start with a definition. “[C]olour constancy is the constancy of the perceived colours of surfaces under changes in the intensity and spectral composition of the illumination.” (Foster et al. 1997) Given the definition we can now ask a question: Does human color vision exhibit color constancy?1 The answer to the question depends in part on how we interpret it. If the question is understood as asking whether human color vision displays constancy for every possible scene across every possible (...) illumination then the answer is no.2 If the question is understood as asking whether human color vision displays some degree of constancy for some scenes across some range of illuminants then the answer is yes. The more interesting questions involve characterizing the degree of constancy human vision displays, the types of scenes and ranges of illuminants for which approximate constancy can be achieved and the.. (shrink)
Saunders & van Brakel argue, inter alia, that there is for the claim that there are four unique hues (red, green, blue, and yellow), and that there are two corresponding opponent processes. We argue that this is quite mistaken.
If you trained someone to emit a particular sound at the sight of something red, another at the sight of something yellow, and so on for other colors, still he would not yet be describing objects by their colors. Though he might be a help to us in giving a description. A description is a representation of a distribution in a space (in that of time, for instance).
A sensible quality is a perceptible property, a property that physical objects (or events) perceptually appear to have. Thus smells, tastes, colors and shapes are sensible qualities. An egg, for example, may smell rotten, taste sour, and look cream and round.1,2 The sensible qualities are not a miscellanous jumble—they form complex structures. Crimson, magenta, and chartreuse are not merely three different shades of color: the first two are more similar than either is to the third. Familiar color spaces or color (...) solids capture, to a greater or lesser extent, these relations between the colors. The same goes for sensible qualities perceived in other modalities: middle C, high C, and D are not merely three different notes, and the taste of lemons, oranges, and sugar cubes are not merely three different tastes. How can this structure of appearance be explained? One idea is that sensible qualities are of two sorts: basic and derived. The basic sensible qualities are the building blocks from which the derived sensible qualities can be.. (shrink)
Our reply is in three parts. The first part concerns some foundational issues in the debate about color realism. The second part addresses the many objections to the version of physicalism about color ("productance physicalism") defended in the target article. The third part discusses the leading alternative approaches and theories endorsed by the commentators.
The Dangerous Book for Boys Abstract: Seventeenth and eighteenth century discussions of the senses are often thought to contain a profound truth: some perceptible properties are secondary qualities, dispositions to produce certain sorts of experiences in perceivers. In particular, colors are secondary qualities: for example, an object is green iff it is disposed to look green to standard perceivers in standard conditions. After rebutting Boghossian and Velleman’s argument that a certain kind of secondary quality theory is viciously circular, we discuss (...) three main lines of argument for the secondary quality theory. The first is inspired by an intuitively compelling picture of perception articulated by Reid; the second is that the secondary quality theory is a conceptual truth; the third line of argument is presented in Johnston’s influential paper ‘How to speak of the colors’. We conclude that all these arguments fail, and that the secondary quality theory is unmotivated. Keywords: color, secondary quality, disposition, vision, perception.. (shrink)
Our reply is in four parts. The first part, R1, addresses objections to our claim that there might be “unknowable” color facts. The second part, R2, discusses the use we make of opponent process theory. The third part, R3, examines the question of whether colors are causes. The fourth part, R4, takes up some issues concerning the content of visual experience.
Although it has been something of a fetish for philosophers to distinguish between hallucination and illusion, the enduring problems for philosophy of perception that both phenomena present are not essentially different. Hallucination, in its pure philosophical form, is just another example of the philosopher’s penchant for considering extreme and extremely idealized cases in order to understand the ordinary. The problem that has driven much philosophical thinking about perception is the problem of how to reconcile our evident direct perceptual contact with (...) objects and properties with the equally evident fact that there is no phenomenological signal separating error and truth. “The obscure object of hallucination” offers a subtle and plausible solution to this problem and one that solves the problem generally, not just in the special case of hallucination. Johnston’s objective is to offer a theory of perception that meets two constraints: (1) that it provide an explanation of the possibility of delusive and veridical sensings that are indistinguishable from the ﬁrst-person perspective and (2) that it count as form of direct realism where this is taken to involve acquaintance with the objects of perception. Johnston uses the ﬁrst constraint to rule out disjunctivism. The second constraint is used to rule out conjunctivism, which as Johnston uses the term, includes most of the widely adopted philosophical theories of perception. Johnston also develops his own sophisticated and interesting theory of perception. In what follows, I will discuss the relation of Johnston’s theory to conjunctivism, examine one of his anti-conjunctivist arguments and ﬁnally compare Johnston’s theory with some other versions of direct realism. These topics constitute a very incomplete selection of the important issues discussed in this rich and interesting paper. I will also not disagree, in any fundamental way, with any of the central theses of Johnston’s discussion.. (shrink)
Philosophers have devoted a great deal of discussion to the question of whether an inverted spectrum thought experiment refutes functionalism. (For a review of the inverted spectrum and its many philosophical applications, see Byrne, 2004.) If Ho?man is correct the matter can be swiftly and conclusively settled, without appeal to any empirical data about color vision (or anything else). Assuming only that color experiences and functional relations can be mathematically represented, a simple mathematical result.
Anomaloscope An instrument used for detecting anomalies of color vision. The test subject adjusts the ratio of two monochromatic lights to form a match with a third monochromatic light. The most common form of this procedure involves a Rayleigh match: a match between a mixture of monochromatic green and red lights, and a monochromatic yellow light. Normal subjects will choose a matching ratio of red to green light that falls within a fairly narrow range of values. Subjects with anomalous color (...) vision will choose a ratio of red to green that falls outside this range, and red-green dichromats will accept any ratio of red to green as forming a match. (shrink)
We consider the question of the manner of the internalization of the geometry and topology of physical space in the mind, both the mechanism of internalization and precisely what structures are internalized. Though we will not argue for the point here, we agree with the long tradition which holds that an understanding of this issue is crucial for addressing many metaphysical and epistemological questions concerning space.
The world as perceived by human beings is full of colour. The world as described by physical scientists is composed of colourless particles and fields. Philosophical theories of colour since the scientific revolution have been primarily driven by a desire to harmonize these two apparently conflicting pictures of the world. Any adequate theory of colour has to be consistent with the characteristics of colour as perceived without contradicting the deliverances of the physical sciences. Given this conception of the aim of (...) a theory of colour, there are three possibilities for resolving the apparent conflict between the scientific and perceptual facts. The first possibility is to deny that physical objects have colours. Theories of this kind admit that objects appear coloured but maintain that these appearances are misleading. The conflict is resolved by removing colour from the external world. Second, it might be that colour is a relational property. For an object to possess a particular colour it must be related in the right way to a perceiver. One common version of this view analyzes colour as a disposition to cause particular kinds of perceptual experiences in a human being. Since the physical sciences deal only with the intrinsic properties of physical objects and their relations to other physical objects and not their relations to perceiving subjects, the possibility of conflict is removed. A third possible response to the conflict is to maintain that colour really is a property of external objects and that the conflict is merely apparent. Some theories of this form maintain that colour is identical to a physical property of objects. Others maintain that colour is a property that physical objects possess over and above all their physical <blockquote> 1 </blockquote> properties. Philosophical discussions of colour typically take the form of either elaborating on one of these three possibilities or attempting to show more generally that one of these three types of responses is to be preferred to the others.. (shrink)
The primary issues concern whether objects have colours, and what sorts of properties the colours are. Some philosophers hold that nothing is coloured, others that colour are powers to affect perceivers, and others that colours are physical properties.
Perception and thought are often, although not exclusively, concerned with information about the world. In the case of perceiving though, unlike thinking, it is widely believed that there is an additional element involved, a subjective feeling or, as it is often put, something that it is like to be perceiving. Qualia are these characteristic feelings that accompany perceiving. One motivation for the idea that we experience qualia is that there is a clear difference between seeing a red tomato and thinking (...) that a tomato is red and that the difference has to do with some extra element present in the case of seeing that is absent in the case of thinking. Philosophical attempts to understand qualia and their place in the world have played a central role in recent debates about the nature of mind and its place in the world. Before getting to those debates, we will take a more detailed look at the distinction between the content of perceptual experiences,what they tell us about the world, and their qualitative or phenomenal character, what it is like to experience them. (shrink)
One of the traditional problems of philosophy is the nature of the connection between perceptual experience and empirical knowledge. That there is an intimate connection between the two is rarely doubted. Three case studies of visual deficits due to brain damage are used to motivate the claim that perceptual experience is neither necessary nor sufficient for perceptual knowledge. Acceptance of this claim leaves a mystery as to the epistemic role, if any, of perceptual experience. It is argued that one function (...) of perceptual experience is to provide information about the sources of beliefs, both as to which perceptual modality and within a given modality. This information is useful in assessing the reliability of perceptual beliefs. (shrink)