, Volume 66, Issue 1-2, pp 73-105
Date: 20 Feb 2007

Color primitivism

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Abstract

The typical kind of color realism is reductive: the color properties are identified with properties specified in other terms (as ways of altering light, for instance). If no reductive analysis is available – if the colors are primitive sui generis properties – this is often taken to be a convincing argument for eliminativism. That is, realist primitivism is usually thought to be untenable. The realist preference for reductive theories of color over the last few decades is particularly striking in light of the generally anti-reductionist mood of recent philosophy of mind. The parallels between the mind–body problem and the case of color are substantial enough that the difference in trajectory is surprising. While dualism and non-reductive physicalism are staples, realist primitivism is by and large a recent addition to the color literature. And it remains a minority position, although one that is perhaps gaining support. In this paper, we investigate whether it should be accepted, and conclude it should not be.