Philosophy of color
If color fictionalism is true, and the world is not actually colored, should one just stop color discourse, and all the time wear clothes that clash with each other? Prescriptive color fictionalism would say no. In prescriptive color fictionalism, while color discourse is, stricly speaking, false, one should continue using it in everyday life as though color properties do exist.
Color vision became an important part of contemporary analytic philosophy due to the claim by scientists like Leo Hurvich that the physical and neurological aspects of color vision had become completely understood by empirical psychologists in the 1980s. An important work on the subject was C. L. Hardin's 'Color for Philosophers,' which explained stunning empirical findings by empirical psychologists to the conclusion that colors can't possibly be part of physical world, but are instead purely mental features.
David Hilbert and Alexander Byrne have devoted their careers to philosophical issues regarding color vision. Byrne and Hilbert have taken a minority position that colors are actually part of the physical world. Nigel J.T. Thomas provides a particularly clear presentation of the argument. The psychologist George Boeree, in the tradition of J. J. Gibson, specifically assigns color to light, and extends the idea of color realism to all sensory experience, an approach he refers to as "quality realism".
Jonathan Cohen of UCSD and Michael Tye of University of Texas have also written many essays on color vision. Cohen argues for the uncontroversial position of color relationalism with respect to semantics of color vision in Relationalist Manifesto. In The Red and the Real, Cohen argues for the position that with respect to color ontology that generalizes from his semantics to his metaphysics. Cohen's work marks the end of a vigorous debate on the topic of color that started with Hardin.
Michael Tye argues among other things, that there is only one correct way to see colors. Therefore, the colorblind and most mammals do not really have color vision because their vision differs from the vision of "normal" humans. Similarly, creatures with more advanced color vision, although better able to distinguish objects than people, are actually suffering from color illusions because their vision differs from humans. Tye advanced this particular position in an essay called True Blue.
Paul Churchland of UCSD has also commented extensively on the implication of color vision science on his version of reductive materialism. In the 1980s Paul Churchland's view located colors in the retina. But his more recent view locates color in spectral opponency cells deeper in the color information stream. Paul Churchland's view is similar to Byrne and Hilbert's view, but differs in that it emphasized the subjective nature of color vision and identifies subjective colors with coding vectors in neural networks.
Many philosophers follow empirical psychologists in endorsing color irrealism, the view that colors are entirely mental constructs and not physical features of the world. Surprisingly, most philosophers who have extensively addressed the topic have attempted to defend color realism against the empirical psychologists who universally defend color antirealism (aka irrealism).
Jonathan Cohen of UCSD has edited a collection of essays on the topic of color philosophy called Color Vision and Color Science, Color Ontology and Color Science.
||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (June 2009)|
- "Color" at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Color Realism and Color Science
- Color Realism: Toward a Solution to the Hard Problem."
- "Fictionalism" at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Fictionalism in Metaphysics (by Mark Eli Kalderon) at Google Books
- Color Fictionalism: Color Discourse without Colors (dissertation abstract) by Dimitria Electra Gatzia
- Quality Realism