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Color Ontology and Color Science

Edited by Jonathan Cohen and Mohan Matthen

Publication Year: 2010

Leading philosophers and scientists consider what conclusions about color can be drawn when the latest analytic tools are applied to the most sophisticated color science.

Published by: The MIT Press

Series: Life and Mind: Philosophical Issues in Biology and Psychology


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pp. 1-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xxiv

Philosophical and psychological theorizing about color has traditionally made much of the idea that colors (or perhaps color appearances) are essentially, that is, by their own nature, ordered in ways that are phenomenally evident to a perceiver in virtue merely of her experience of them. ...

Part I: Color and Structure: Current Views

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1. Color Spaces and Color Order Systems: A Primer

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pp. 3-36

The idea that the large number of color percepts humans can experience must fit into some kind of ordering system is old. Aristotle listed seven (or eight) color categories in a lightness-based scale of chromatic colors between white and black. But he despaired of sorting all color experiences he knew into a system. ...

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2. On the Reality (and Diversity) of Objective Colors: How Color-Qualia Space Is a Map of Reflectance-Profile Space

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pp. 37-66

At least since Locke, color scientists and philosophers have been inclined to deny any objective reality to the familiar ontology of perceivable colors, on grounds that physical science has revealed to us that material objects have no qualitative features at their surfaces that genuinely resemble the qualitative features of our subjective color experiences.1 ...

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3. Color Experience: A Semantic Theory

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pp. 67-90

In this chapter, I present a semantic theory of color experience, on which color experience represents or denotes color properties, and attributes these properties to visual objects. On such a theory, color experience informs us about the external world by means of a semantic relationship, representation or denotation, that it bears to external world properties, ...

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4. More than Three Dimensions: What Continuity Considerations Can Tell Us about Perceived Color

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pp. 91-122

This chapter presents a novel approach to the issue of dimensionality in color vision that, in my view, is apt to fundamentally challenge certain still widely held mainstream assumptions concerning the three-dimensionality of color space in normal human color vision. In referring to a space of colors, we have to take into account right from the start ...

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5. Color within an Internalist Framework: The Role of “Color” in the Structure of the Perceptual System

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pp. 123-148

Color is, according to prevailing orthodoxy in perceptual psychology, a kind of autonomous and unitary attribute. It is regarded as unitary or homogeneous by assuming that its core properties do not depend on the type of “perceptual object” to which it pertains and that “color per se” constitutes a natural attribute in the functional architecture of the perceptual system. ...

Part II: Color Spaces and Explanatory Spaces

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6. Into the Neural Maze

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pp. 151-178

Recent discussions have pointed to many apparently instructive examples of how neurophysiological discoveries advance our understanding of color. But I believe it is equally instructive to consider the difficulties and obscurities that continue to frustrate us in this project. Here I review some of the presumed successes, and some acknowledged and unacknowledged obscurities, ...

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7. Where in the World Color Survey Is the Support for Color Categorization Based on the Hering Primaries?

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pp. 179-202

There is considerable debate in the study of human color categorization and naming regarding (1) the degree to which universal tendencies exist in the ways different linguistic societies categorize and name perceptual color experiences, and (2) the possible basis for such universal tendencies. ...

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8. Color, Qualia, and Attention: A Nonstandard Interpretation

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pp. 203-228

A state of phenomenal consciousness is, minimally, a state of consciousness that has some kind of phenomenal character. Both clauses are open to multiple interpretations, the discussion of which can grow quite heated. For the purposes of this chapter, I propose to avoid as many of those debates as possible by confining the discussion to a simple kind of mental state ...

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9. It’s Not Easy Being Green: Hardin and Color Relationalism

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pp. 229-244

C. L. Hardin is that rarest of things—a philosopher who has changed the world. Prior to the publication of Color for Philosophers: Unweaving the Rainbow (Hardin 1988), philosophical work on color had been conducted in roughly the same terms in which it was carried out by the famous moderns—Galileo, Boyle, Locke, et al. ...

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10. How Can the Logic of Color Concepts Apply to Afterimage Colors?

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pp. 245-256

It is often remarked that since the 1980s, there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of work being done in analytic philosophy on the philosophy of color. One of the causes was the publication of C. L. (Larry) Hardin’s groundbreaking work in the area, Color for Philosophers: Unweaving the Rainbow (1988, 1993), but apart from causing lots of other people to get into the field, ...

Part III: Color Blindness

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11. How Do Things Look to the Color-Blind?

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pp. 259-290

Who are the “color-blind”? Approximately 7 percent of males and fewer than 1 percent of females (of European descent1) have some form of inherited defect of color vision and as a result are unable to discriminate some colored stimuli that most of us can tell apart. (Color defective is an alternative term that is often used; we will continue to speak with the vulgar.) ...

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12. What Do the Color-Blind See?

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pp. 291-406

What do the color-blind see? Can we tell? Does it matter? The theory of normal human color vision is one of the triumphs of nineteenth-century science, emerging in Helmholtz and J. C. Maxwell in the 1850s, out of suggestions from Tobias Mayer and Thomas Young and others half a century and more earlier.1 ...


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pp. 407-408


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pp. 409-420

Color Insert

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pp. 446-457

E-ISBN-13: 9780262312493
Print-ISBN-13: 9780262013857

Page Count: 448
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Life and Mind: Philosophical Issues in Biology and Psychology