A clear and distinct conception of colour
This thesis is a defence of naive realism about colour, the view that colours are sui generis mind-independent properties. The prevailing view, with its origins in early modern writers like Descartes, is that colour experience is systematically misrepresentative. I argue, in contrast, that colours are what we ordinarily think they are. In the first part of thesis, I argue that colours are mind-independent they exist independent of our experiences of colour. Acknowledging the mind-independence of colour in the first place requires being able to distinguish between colours and our colour experiences, something that we are able to do by thinking abstractly about the internal relations of similarity and difference in which colours stand. Subsequendy upholding the mind-independence of colour involves resisting the Argument from Perceptual Variation. A consequence of the mind-independence of colour is that there is a sharp distinction between the colours objects really are and the objects they merely appear. The Argument from Perceptual Variation represents an attempt to undermine this appearance-reality distinction. In the second part of the thesis, I argue that colours are sui generis-, they are distinct from the surface reflectance properties described in physical science. Consistent with the thought that our colour experiences 'inherit' their phenomenology from the properties they are experiences of, colours cannot be identical with physical reflectance properties because these properties do not stand in the internal similarity relations characteristic of the colours. Instead, I argue that colours are distinct properties that supervene of metaphysical necessity on the reflectance properties of objects. Securing sui generis mind-independent colours a location within the natural world addresses the problem that has led philosophers since Descartes to deny that our common sense conception of colour is of itself clear and distinct.