The metaphysical significance of colour categorization

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In this chapter I approach the ancient metaphysical question concerning the reality – or otherwise – of colour. Certain philosophers (Hardin 1993; Pautz 2006) have argued that the existence of colour categories, and colour spaces which instantiate similarity relationships between the categories, give reason for concluding that colour is an entirely subjective and illusory phenomenon. In this chapter I argue instead that an understanding of categorization gives us strong motivation for rejecting any simple dichotomy between real / physical properties and unreal / psychological attributes. This undermines the extreme anti-realist view and leads to a novel argument in favour of a relationist theory of colour, according to which colours are perceiver-dependent but nonetheless real properties of objects.


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