A Naive Realist Theory of Colour defends the view that colours are mind-independent properties of things in the environment, that are distinct from properties identified by the physical sciences. This view stands in contrast to the long-standing and wide-spread view amongst philosophers and scientists that colours don't really exist - or at any rate, that if they do exist, then they are radically different from the way that they appear. It is argued that a naive realist theory of colour best (...) explains how colours appear to perceiving subjects, and that this view is not undermined either by reflecting on variations in colour perception between perceivers and across perceptual conditions, or by our modern scientific understanding of the world. A Naive Realist Theory of Colour also illustrates how our understanding of what colours are has far-reaching implications for wider questions about the nature of perceptual experience, the relationship between mind and world, the problem of consciousness, the apparent tension between common sense and scientific representations of the world, and even the very nature and possibility of philosophical inquiry. (shrink)
What are hallucinations? A common view in the philosophical literature is that hallucinations are degenerate kinds of perceptual experience. I argue instead that hallucinations are degenerate kinds of sensory imagination. As well as providing a good account of many actual cases of hallucination, the view that hallucination is a kind of imagination represents a promising account of hallucination from the perspective of a disjunctivist theory of perception like naïve realism. This is because it provides a way of giving a positive (...) characterisation of hallucination—rather than characterising hallucinations in negative, relational, terms as mental events that are subjectively indistinguishable from veridical perceptual experiences. (shrink)
This paper develops a form of transcendental naïve realism. According to naïve realism, veridical perceptual experiences are essentially relational. According to transcendental naïve realism, the naïve realist theory of perception is not just one theory of perception amongst others, to be established as an inference to the best explanation and assessed on the basis of a cost-benefit analysis that weighs performance along a number of different dimensions: for instance, fidelity to appearances, simplicity, systematicity, fit with scientific theories, and so on. (...) Rather, naïve realism enjoys a special status in debates in the philosophy of perception because it represents part of the transcendental project of explaining how it is possible that perceptual experience has the distinctive characteristics it does. One of the potentially most interesting prospects of adopting a transcendental attitude towards naïve realism is that it promises to make the naïve realist theory of perception, in some sense, immune to falsification. This paper develops a modest form of transcendental naïve realism modelled loosely on the account of the reactive attitudes provided by Strawson in ‘Freedom and Resentment’, and suggests one way of understanding the claim that naïve realism is immune to falsification. (shrink)
This paper presents an ‘over-representational’ account of blurred visual experiences. The basic idea is that blurred experiences provide too much, inconsistent, information about objects’ spatial boundaries, by representing them as simultaneously located at multiple locations. This account attempts to avoid problems with alternative accounts of blurred experience, according to which blur is a property of a visual field, a way of perceiving, a form of mis-representation, and a form of under-representation.
Inter-species variation in colour perception poses a serious problem for the view that colours are mind-independent properties. Given that colour perception varies so drastically across species, which species perceives colours as they really are? In this paper, I argue that all do. Specifically, I argue that members of different species perceive properties that are determinates of different, mutually compatible, determinables. This is an instance of a general selectionist strategy for dealing with cases of perceptual variation. According to selectionist views, objects (...) simultaneously instantiate a plurality of colours, all of them genuinely mind-independent, and subjects select from amongst this plurality which colours they perceive. I contrast selectionist views with relationalist views that deny the mind-independence of colour, and consider some general objections to this strategy. (shrink)
This paper has two aims. The first is to use contemporary discussions of naïve realist theories of perception to offer an interpretation of Merleau-Ponty’s theory of perception. The second is to use consideration of Merleau-Ponty’s theory of perception to outline a distinctive version of a naïve realist theory of perception. In a Merleau-Pontian spirit, these two aims are inter-dependent.
Many philosophers believe that there is a causal condition on perception, and that this condition is a conceptual truth about perception. A highly influential argument for this claim is based on intuitive responses to Gricean-style thought experiments. Do the folk share the intuitions of philosophers? Roberts et al. (2016) presented participants with two kinds of cases: Blocker cases (similar to Grice’s case involving a mirror and a pillar) and Non-Blocker cases (similar to Grice’s case involving a clock and brain stimulation). (...) They found that a substantial minority agreed that seeing occurs in the Non-Blocker cases, and that in the Blocker cases significantly less agreed that seeing occurs. They thus hypothesized that folk intuitions better align with a no blocker condition than with a causal condition. This paper continues this line of enquiry with two new experiments. The paper investigates the generality and robustness of Roberts et al.’s findings by expanding the sense modalities tested from only vision to audition and olfaction as well. The paper also uses Gricean-style thought experiments as a case study for investigating the “reflection defense” against the negative project in experimental philosophy. Our results replicate and extend Roberts et al.’s study and support their hypothesis that folk intuitions better align with a no blocker condition. They also provide an empirical reason to doubt the reflection defense. (shrink)
According to naïve realist (or primitivist) theories of colour, colours are sui generis mind-independent properties. The question that I consider in this paper is the relationship of naïve realism to what Mark Johnston calls Revelation, the thesis that the essential nature of colour is fully revealed in a standard visual experience. In the first part of the paper, I argue that if naïve realism is true, then Revelation is false. In the second part of the paper, I defend naïve realism (...) against a number of objections. (shrink)
Locke Defines Knowledge at the beginning of Book IV of the Essay concerning Human Understanding as “the perception of the connexion and agreement, or disagreement and repugnancy of any of our Ideas” (E IV.i.2).1 So defined, knowledge varies along two dimensions. On the one hand, there are four “sorts” of knowledge: of identity or diversity; relation; co-existence or necessary connection; and real existence. On the other hand, there are three “degrees” of knowledge: intuitive knowledge, which consists in the “immediate” perception (...) of agreement or disagreement between ideas (E IV.ii.1); demonstrative knowledge, which consists in the perception of agreement or disagreement by way of intermediate (or intervening) .. (shrink)
It is widely held by philosophers not only that there is a causal condition on perception but also that the causal condition is a conceptual truth about perception. One influential line of argument for this claim is based on intuitive responses to a style of thought experiment popularized by Grice. Given the significance of these thought experiments to the literature, it is important to see whether the folk in fact respond to these cases in the way that philosophers assume they (...) should. We test folk intuitions regarding the causal theory of perception by asking our participants to what extent they agree that they would ‘see’ an object in various Gricean scenarios. We find that the intuitions of the folk do not strongly support the causal condition; they at most strongly support a ‘no blocker’ condition. We argue that this is problematic for the claim that the causal condition is a conceptual truth. (shrink)
Colours appear to instantiate a number of structural properties: for instance, they stand in distinctive relations of similarity and difference, and admit of a fundamental distinction into unique and binary. Accounting for these structural properties is often taken to present a serious problem for physicalist theories of colour. This paper argues that a prominent attempt by Byrne and Hilbert to account for the structural properties of the colours, consistent with the claim that colours are types of surface spectral reflectance, is (...) unsuccessful. Instead, it is suggested that a better account of the structural properties of the colours is provided by a form of non-reductive physicalism about colour: a naïve realist theory of colour, according to which colours are superficial mind-independent properties. (shrink)
The view that the mind-dependence of colour is implicit in our ordinary thinking has a distinguished history. With its origins in Berkeley, the view has proved especially popular amongst so-called ‘Oxford’ philosophers, proponents including Cook Wilson (1904: 773-4), Pritchard (1909: 86-7), Ryle (1949: 209), Kneale (1950: 123) and McDowell (1985: 112). Gareth Evans’s discussion of secondary qualities in “Things Without the Mind” is representative of this tradition. It is his version of the view that I consider in this paper.
Variations in colour perception have featured prominently in recent attempts to argue against the view that colours are objective mind-independent properties of the perceptual environment. My aim in this paper is to defend the view that colours are mind-independent properties in response to worries arising from one type of empirically documented case of perceptual variation: variation in the perception of the «unique hues». §1 sets out the challenge raised by variation in the perception of the unique hues. I argue in (...) §2 that the empirical findings are less dramatic than they might initially appear, and in §3 that accounting for the inter-personal differences is consistent with the view that colours are mind-independent properties that normal subjects veridically perceive, at least roughly speaking. (shrink)
Margaret Cavendish was a contemporary critic of the mechanistic theories of matter that came to dominate seventeenth-century thought and the proponent of a distinctive form of non-mechanistic materialism. Colour was a central issue both to the mechanistic theories of matter that Cavendish opposed and to the non-mechanistic alternative that she defended. This chapter considers the form of colour realism that Cavendish developed to complement her non-mechanistic materialism, and uses her criticisms of contemporary views of colour to try to better understand (...) the experimental approach to natural philosophy associated with writers like Hooke and Boyle. Allen argues that Cavendish’s discussion of colour in Observations upon Experimental Philosophy helps to show that there was a close connection between experimental philosophy and mechanistic theories of matter, and that, at least in the middle of the seventeenth century, experimental and speculative forms of mechanism were not mutually exclusive. (shrink)
Ralph Cudworth (1617–1688) is a member of the group of philosophers and theologians commonly called ‘the Cambridge Platonists’. Although not part of the canon of great early modern philosophers, Cudworth’s work is of more than merely passing interest. Cudworth was an influential philosopher in the early modern period both for his criticisms of contemporaries like Hobbes, Descartes, and Spinoza, and for his own distinctive philosophical views. This entry focusses on Cudworth’s views on mind and body, considering both his criticisms of (...) contemporaries’ theories of mind and body, and outlining his alternative form of dualism in which plastic nature plays a central role. (shrink)
What is the relationship between being coloured and looking coloured? According to Alva Noë, to be coloured is to manifest a pattern of apparent colours as the perceptual conditions vary. I argue that Noë’s ‘phenomenal objectivism’ faces similar objections to attempts by traditional dispositionalist theories of colour to account for being coloured in terms of looking coloured. Instead, I suggest that to be coloured is to look coloured in a ‘non-perspectival’ sense, where non-perspectival looks transcend specific perceptual conditions.
Many philosophical debates take for granted that there is such a thing as ‘the’ common-sense conception of the phenomenon of interest. Debates about the nature of perception tend to take for granted that there is a single, coherent common-sense conception of vision, consistent with Direct Realism. This conception is often accorded an epistemic default status. We draw on philosophical and psychological literature on naïve theories and belief fragmentation to motivate the hypothesis that untutored common sense encompasses conflicting Direct Realist and (...) Indirect Realist conceptions: there is no such thing as ‘the’ common-sense conception of vision that could enjoy epistemic default status. To examine this hypothesis, a survey administered an agreement rating task with verbal and pictorial stimuli to lay participants. We found many laypeople simultaneously hold conflicting Direct Realist and Indirect Realist beliefs about vision. Against common assumptions, Direct Realist beliefs are not clearly dominant, and consistent adherence to Direct Realism is not the norm, but the exception. These findings are consistent with recent accounts of belief fragmentation. They forcefully challenge common methodology in philosophical debates about the nature of perception and beyond. (shrink)
What, according to Locke, are ideas? I argue that Locke does not give an account of the nature of ideas. In the Essay, the question is simply set to one side, as recommended by the “Historical, plain Method” that Locke employs. This is exemplified by his characterization of ‘ideas’ in E I.i.8, and the discussion of the inverted spectrum hypothesis in E II.xxxii. In this respect, Locke's attitude towards the nature of ideas in the Essay is reminiscent of Boyle's diffident (...) attitude towards the nature of matter. In posthumously published work, however, Locke suggests that the enquiry into the nature of ideas is one of the things that the enquiry into the extent of human knowledge undertaken in the Essay actually shows to lie beyond the “compass of human understanding”. In this respect, Locke's attitude towards the nature of ideas is reminiscent of Sydenham's attitude towards the nature of diseases. (shrink)
Objects appear different as the illumination under which they are perceived varies. This fact is sometimes thought to pose a problem for the view that colours are mind-independent properties: if a coloured object appears different under different illuminations, then under which illumination does the object appear the colour it really is? I argue that given the nature of natural daylight, and certain plausible assumptions about the nature of the colours it illuminates, there is a non-arbitrary reason to suppose that it (...) is under natural daylight that we are able to perceive the real colours of objects. (shrink)
Intuitively, there is an intimate connection between being coloured and looking coloured. As Strawson memorably remarked, it is natural to assume that ‘colours are visibilia or they are nothing’. But what exactly is the nature of this relationship?A traditionally popular view of the relationship between being coloured and looking coloured starts from the common place that the character of our perceptual experience changes as the conditions in which an object is perceived vary. For instance, our experience changes when we view (...) an object under different illuminants, as when we move from artificial illumination indoors to natural daylight outside. It changes under one and the same illuminant, depending on whether the object is directly or indirectly illuminated. And it varies independently of this, as the background against which the object is perceived varies. Placing a lot of weight on the idea that objects look or appear different as the perceptual conditions vary, proponents of this approach suggest that we can understand what it is for something to be coloured in terms of what it is for something to look coloured in specific perceptual conditions. (shrink)
Locke’s argument for the primary-secondary quality distinction is compared with Descartes’s argument (in the Principles of Philosophy) for the distinction between mechanical modifications and sensible qualities. I argue that following Descartes, Locke’s argument for the primary-secondary quality distinction is an essentially a priori argument, based on our conception of substance, and the constraints on intelligible bodily interaction that this conception of substance sets.
What is the experience of someone who is “colour‐blind” like? This paper presents the results of a study that uses qualitative research methods to better understand the lived experience of colour blindness. Participants were asked to describe their experiences of a variety of coloured stimuli, both with and without EnChroma glasses—glasses which, the manufacturers claim, enhance the experience of people with common forms of colour blindness. More generally, the paper provides a case study in the nascent field of experimental philosophy (...) of experience. (shrink)
This paper considers whether we should believe philosophical claims on the basis of testimony in light of related debates about aesthetic and moral testimony. It is argued that we should not believe philosophical claims on testimony, and different explanations of why we should not are considered. It is suggested that the reason why we should not believe philosophical claims on testimony might be that philosophy is not truth-directed.
This paper considers two accounts of the way that colours are represented in perception, thought, and language that are consistent with relationalist theories of colour: Jonathan Cohen’s contextualist semantics for colour ascriptions, and Andy Egan’s suggestion that colour ascriptions have self-locating contents. I argue that colours are not represented in perception, thought, or language as mind-dependent relational properties.
This article explores home dissatisfaction using methods modelled on those used to understand negative body image and its causes. We found that a substantial proportion of UK participants (13–39%) expressed dissatisfaction with their homes. Although the strongest association was between home dissatisfaction and reported physical problems, there was evidence that dissatisfaction is also predicted by experiencing pressure from the media and your family to improve your home, as well as reporting a greater tendency to compare your home to others’. The (...) results of the study provide initial evidence for a sociocultural explanation of home dissatisfaction, analogous to sociocultural explanations of body dissatisfaction. (shrink)
In addressing the metaphysical question of what colours are, a consideration that is commonly appealed to is how colours are represented—typically in perceptual experiences, but also in beliefs and linguistic utterances. Although representations need not accurately reflect the nature of what they represent—indeed, they need not represent anything that actually exists at all—the way colours are represented is often taken to provide at least a defeasible guide to the metaphysics: all else being equal, it seems we should prefer a theory (...) of what colours that is consistent with the way that they appear; otherwise, our theory of the nature of colour entails a potentially unattractive error theory about ordinary colour ascriptions. (shrink)
This volume brings together a collection of new essays by leading scholars on the subject of causation in the early modern period, from Descartes to Lady Mary Shepherd. Aimed at researchers, graduate students and advanced undergraduates, the volume advances the understanding of early modern discussions of causation, and situates these discussions in the wider context of early modern philosophy and science. Specifically, the volume contains essays on key early modern thinkers, such as Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Hume, Kant. It also (...) contains essays that examine the important contributions to the causation debate of less widely discussed figures, including Louis la Forge, Thomas Brown and Lady Mary Shepherd. (shrink)