Inter-species variation in colour perception

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Inter-species variation in colour perception poses a serious problem for the view that colours are mind-independent properties. Given that colour perception varies so drastically across species, which species perceives colours as they really are? In this paper, I argue that all do. Specifically, I argue that members of different species perceive properties that are determinates of different, mutually compatible, determinables. This is an instance of a general selectionist strategy for dealing with cases of perceptual variation. According to selectionist views, objects simultaneously instantiate a plurality of colours, all of them genuinely mind-independent, and subjects select from amongst this plurality which colours they perceive. I contrast selectionist views with relationalist views that deny the mind-independence of colour, and consider some general objections to this strategy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-220
Number of pages23
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009

Bibliographical note

© 2009 Springer Verlag. This is an author produced version of a paper published in PHILOSOPHICAL STUDIES. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self archiving policy.


  • Colour
  • Colour perception
  • Perceptual variation
  • Selectionism

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