Colour Physicalism, Naïve Realism, and the Argument from Structure

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Colours appear to instantiate a number of structural properties: for instance, they stand in distinctive relations of similarity and difference, and admit of a fundamental distinction into unique and binary. Accounting for these structural properties is often taken to present a serious problem for physicalist theories of colour. This paper argues that a prominent attempt by Byrne and Hilbert (e.g. 2003) to account for the structural properties of the colours, consistent with the claim that colours are types of surface spectral reflectance, is unsuccessful. Instead, it is suggested that a better account of the structural properties of the colours is provided by a form of non-reductive physicalism about colour: a naïve realist theory of colour, according to which colours are superficial mind-independent properties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-212
JournalMinds and Machines
Issue number2
Early online date24 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - May 2015

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