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A Relationalist's Guide to Error About Color Perception

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Abstract:

Blue and yellow, bitter or sweet, can never be false ideas: these perceptions in the mind are just such as they are there, answering the powers appointed by God to produce them; and so are truly what they are, and are intended to be.

— Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding, II, 32, 16. Abstract

Color relationalism is the view that colors are constituted in terms of relations to perceiving subjects. Among its explanatory virtues, relationalism provides a satisfying treatment of cases of perceptual variation. But it can seem that relationalists lack resources for saying that a representation of x's color is erroneous. Surely, though, a theory of color that makes errors of color perception impossible cannot be correct. In this paper I'll argue that, initial appearances notwithstanding, relationalism contains the resources to account for errors of color perception. I'll conclude that worries about making room for error are worries the relationalist can meet.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0068.2007.00650.x

Affiliations: University of California, San Diego

Publication date: 2007-06-01

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