Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter December 16, 2017

Reconsidering the Case for Colour Relativism

Stefan Reining
From the journal Metaphysica

Abstract

The central aim of this paper is to argue that the main motivation for endorsing colour relativism – namely, the occurrence of so-called standard variation phenomena – constitutes, in the end, a problem for the view itself which is not significantly smaller than the problem these phenomena constitute for most of the view’s competitors. Section 1 provides a brief characterization of the relativist position in question. In Section 2, I provide a prima facie case for colour relativism in the light of the occurrence of standard variation phenomena, and I argue that a certain version of the view can be defended against certain objections that have been raised against colour relativism. Section 3 provides an argument for the central claim of this paper, that is, an argument to the conclusion that standard variation phenomena do, in the end, not at all favour colour relativism over its main competitors. Finally, in Section 4, I suggest and tentatively defend a hitherto neglected account of the meaning of colour terms that accommodates the phenomena in question.

Acknowledgments

I am indebted to Wolfgang Barz, Lars Dänzer, Thomas Spitzley, Anna-Maria Asunta Eder, and Philipp Kahlert for helpful comments and discussions on earlier drafts of this paper, as well as all those who have commented on the chapter of my PhD thesis from which this paper has emerged – especially Manuel García-Carpintero, Kathrin Glüer-Pagin, Dan López de Sa, Genoveva Martí, and Timothy Williamson.

References

Block, N. 1999. “Sexism, Racism, Ageism, and the Nature of Consciousness.” Philosophical Topics 26:39–70.10.5840/philtopics1999261/233Search in Google Scholar

BonJour, L. 2005. “In Defense of the A Priori.” In Contemporary Debates in Epistemology, edited by M. Steup and E. Sosa. Malden, MA: Wiley.Search in Google Scholar

Broackes, J. 1997. “Could We Take Lime, Purple, Orange, and Teal as Unique Hues?” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 20:183–184.10.1017/S0140525X9726142XSearch in Google Scholar

Byrne, D., and D.R. Hilbert. 2003. “Authors’ Response.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26:52–59.10.1016/S0003-9993(97)90321-XSearch in Google Scholar

Campbell, J. 1993. “A Simple View of Colour.” In Reality, Representation, and Projection, edited by J. Haldane and C. Wright. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Churchland, P. 2007. “On the Reality (And Diversity) of Objective Colors: How Color-Qualia Space Is a Map of Reflectance-Profile Space.” Philosophy of Science 74:119–149.10.1086/519027Search in Google Scholar

Cohen, J. 2004. “Color Properties and Color Ascriptions: A Relationalist Manifesto.” The Philosophical Review 113:451–506.10.1215/00318108-113-4-451Search in Google Scholar

Cohen, J. 2009. The Red and the Real. An Essay on Color Ontology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199556168.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Cohen, J. 2012. “Redder and Realer: Responses to Egan and Tye.” Analytic Philosophy 53:313–326.10.1111/j.2153-960X.2012.00571.xSearch in Google Scholar

Cohen, J., C.L. Hardin, and B.P. McLaughlin. 2006. “True Colours.” Analysis 66:335–340.10.1093/analys/66.4.335Search in Google Scholar

Cohen, J., C.L. Hardin, and B.P. McLaughlin. 2007. “The Truth about ‘The Truth about True Blue’.” Analysis 67:162–166.Search in Google Scholar

Gert, J. 2008. “What Colors Could Not Be: An Argument for Color Primitivism.” The Journal of Philosophy 105:128–155.10.5840/jphil200810532Search in Google Scholar

Glüer, K. 2007. “Colors without Circles?” Erkenntnis 66:107–131.10.1007/s10670-006-9029-7Search in Google Scholar

Hardin, C.L. 1988. Color for Philosophers. Unweaving the Rainbow. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett.Search in Google Scholar

Jackson, F. 1996. “The Primary Quality View of Color.” Philosophical Perspectives 10:199–219.10.2307/2216244Search in Google Scholar

Jackson, F. 1998. From Metaphysics to Ethics. A Defence of Conceptual Analysis. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Search in Google Scholar

Kay, P., B. Berlin, L. Maffi, et al. 2009. The World Color Survey. Stanford, CA: Center for the Study of Language and Information.Search in Google Scholar

Kölbel, M. 2009. “The Evidence for Relativism.” Synthese 166:375–395.10.1007/s11229-007-9281-7Search in Google Scholar

MacFarlane, J. 2009. “Nonindexical Contextualism.” Synthese 166:231–250.10.1007/s11229-007-9286-2Search in Google Scholar

Malkoc, G., P. Kay, and M.A. Webster. 2005. “Variations in Normal Color Vision. IV. Binary Hues and Hue Scaling.” Journal of the Optical Society of America A 22:2154–2168.10.1364/JOSAA.22.002154Search in Google Scholar

McLaughlin, B.P. 2003a. “Colour, Consciousness, and Colour Consciousness.” In Consciousness. New Philosophical Perspectives, edited by Q. Smith and A. Jokic. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Search in Google Scholar

McLaughlin, B.P. 2003b. “The Place of Colour in Nature.” In Colour Perception. Mind and the Physical World, edited by R. Mausfeld and D. Heyer. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Neitz, J., and G.H. Jacobs. 1986. “Polymorphism of the Long-Wavelength Cone in Normal Human Colour Vision.” Nature 323:623–625.10.1038/323623a0Search in Google Scholar PubMed

Neitz, J., M. Neitz, and G.H. Jacobs. 1993. “More than Three Different Cone Pigments among People with Normal Color Vision.” Vision Research 33:117–122.10.1016/0042-6989(93)90064-4Search in Google Scholar PubMed

Neitz, M., and J. Neitz. 1998. “Molecular Genetics and the Biological Basis of Color Vision.” In Color Vision. Perspectives from Different Disciplines, edited by W.G.K. Backhaus, R. Kliegl and J.S. Werner. Berlin: De Gruyter.Search in Google Scholar

Ocelák, R. 2015. “The Myth of Unique Hues.” Topoi 34:513–522.10.1007/s11245-014-9249-4Search in Google Scholar

Peacocke, C. 1983. Sense and Content. Experience, Thought, and Their Relations. Oxford :Clarendon Press.Search in Google Scholar

Peacocke, C. 1984. “Colour Concepts and Colour Experience.” Synthese 58:365–381.10.1007/BF00485247Search in Google Scholar

Russell, B. 1912. The Problems of Philosophy. London: Hazell, Watson and Viney.Search in Google Scholar

Saunders, B.A.C., and J. Van Brakel. 1997. “Are There Non-Trivial Constraints on Colour Categorization?.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 20:167–179.10.1017/S0140525X97001428Search in Google Scholar

Spackman, J. 2002. “Color, Relativism, and Realism.” Philosophical Studies 108:249–287.10.1023/A:1015705014169Search in Google Scholar

Tye, M. 2006a. “The Puzzle of True Blue.” Analysis 66:173–178.10.1093/analys/66.3.173Search in Google Scholar

Tye, M. 2006b. “The Truth about True Blue.” Analysis 66:340–344.10.1093/analys/66.4.340Search in Google Scholar

Tye, M. 2012. “Cohen on Color Relationism.” Analytic Philosophy 53:297–305.10.1111/j.2153-960X.2012.00569.xSearch in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2017-12-16
Published in Print: 2018-3-26

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Scroll Up Arrow