Colour has often been supposed to be a subjective property, a property to be analysed orretly in terms of the phenomenological aspects of human expereince. In contrast with subjectivism, an objectivist analysis of color takes color to be a property objects possess in themselves, independently of the character of human perceptual expereince. David Hilbert defends a form of objectivism that identifies color with a physical property of surfaces - their spectral reflectance. This analysis of color is shown to provide a (...) more adequate account of the features of human color vision than its subjectivist rivals. The author's account of colro also recognises that the human perceptual system provides a limited and idiosyncratic picture of the world. These limitations are shown to be consistent with a realist account of colour and to provide the necessary tools for giving an analysis of common sense knowledge of color phenomena. (shrink)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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).
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Color-vision defects constitute a spectrum of disorders with varying degrees and types of departure from normal human color vision. One form of color-vision defect is dichromacy; by mixing together only two lights, the dichromat can match any light, unlike normal trichromatic humans, who need to mix three. In a philosophical context, our titular question may be taken in two ways. First, it can be taken at face value as a question about visible properties of external objects, and second, it may (...) be interpreted as the more intangible question of “what it’s like” to be color-blind. (shrink)
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)
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)
Naturalistic theories of content and whether or not reason-giving explanations of human behavior are causal explanations have been central topics in recent philosophy of mind. Fred Dretske, in his book Explaining Behavior, attempts to construct a naturalistic theory of the contents of beliefs and desires that gives these mental states an important role in the causation of behavior. Even if Dretske is granted that the theory adequately accounts for individual behaviors the theory still faces problems in offering an adequate account (...) of important features of extended sequences of behavior. Some sequences of behavior exhibit coherence in the sense that the elements of the sequence either contribute to the atttainment of a goal state or only make sense on the supposition that the goal state will be attained. Two ways of attaining coherence are distinguished. In chaining behavior coherence is guaranteed by the fit between the internal structure of the organism and the structure of the external environment. In other cases of coherence chaining is not available as an explanation. It is argued that Dretske. (shrink)
In Colour for Architecture, published in 1976, the editors, Tom Porter and Byron Mikellides, explain that their book was “produced out of an awareness that colour, as a basic and vital force, is lacking from the built environment and that our knowledge of it is isolated and limited.”1 Lack of urban color was then especially salient in Britain—where the book was published—which had just begun to recoil at the Brutalist legacy of angular stained gray concrete strewn across the postwar landscape. (...) Perhaps because the most urgent need was to inject some hue into this architectural dystopia, one of the main innovations illustrated in the book involves nothing more than cans of paint. Dull unfinished concrete façades, the interior of a subway station, a cement works, and so on, are shown enlivened by fields of bright color. (shrink)
The 18th century philosopher and Anglican bishop, George Berkeley, is chiefly known to posterity for advocating the radical thesis that there is no unthinking stuff in the world. According to Berkeley, bar stools, kegs, mugs and the all paraphernalia of ordinary life (plus everything else) are merely ideas and have no existence outside the mind of those seated on the stools, tapping the kegs, and drinking from the mugs. What is less well-known is that Berkeley devoted much of his energy (...) in later life to promoting the use of a concoction he called tar-water for the treatment of a wide variety of health ailments. Fortunately, Berkeley thought that many of the same virtues were found in some beers. It may seem paradoxical that one and the same man could both claim that beer only exists as an idea in the minds of those consuming it and that it could cure all known afflictions. Berkeley's resolution of this paradox will be explored and it will be seen that it is possible to both appreciate and benefit from beer even if it is only an idea. (shrink)
What is color? Of course, examples of colorful objects are not hard to come by (Fig. 1 provides numerous examples), so the question itself is slightly puzzling, suggesting that some confusion needs to be cleared up or ignorance enlightened. But how could anyone (who isn’t blind or Fig. 1 Atoms Inside Balloons totally lacking in color vision) possibly be confused about what color is? After all, if we learn anything about the world merely by looking at it, it’s the colors (...) of the things we see. How could we do this if we were confused about or ignorant of the nature of color? We might be confused.. (shrink)
The logic of the basic taste concept is discussed in relation to the physiology and psychophysics of color vision. An alternative version of the basic taste model, analogous to opponent-process theory is introduced. The logic of quality naming experiments is clarified.
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.