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Volume 49 • Number 2

April 2012



Perceived Colors and Perceived Locations: A Problem for Color Subjectivism

by Peter W. Ross

Color subjectivism claims that colors attributed to external physical objects in virtue of visual experience—or perceived colors—are not instantiated by those objects. Instead, perceived colors are wholly explained in terms of visual experience itself. (Subjectivism is often called eliminativism or irrealism.)

Subjectivism is a theory of the nature of color and is, strictly speaking, independent of a theory of color perception. But a theory of the nature of color sets constraints on a theory of color perception. For example, subjectivism sets the extremely strong constraint that color perception does not involve a causal relation between perceivers and colors instantiated by physical objects external to the mind. The question that this essay will address is whether there is a plausible theory of color perception that meets the subjectivist constraint. If not, and assuming that any theory of the nature of color is simply untenable if it cannot be combined with a plausible theory of color perception, subjectivism is untenable.

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American Philosophical Quarterly is published by the University of Illinois Press on behalf of North American Philosophical Publications.

ISSN: 2152-1123