What is color vision?

Philosophical Studies 68 (3):351-70 (1992)
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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.



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David R. Hilbert
University of Illinois, Chicago

Citations of this work

Color realism and color science.Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert - 2003 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26 (1):3-21.
Inter-species variation in colour perception.Keith Allen - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 142 (2):197 - 220.
I, zombie.Paul Skokowski - 2002 - Consciousness and Cognition 11 (1):1-9.

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