, Volume 164, Issue 1, pp 219-231
Date: 11 Jan 2012

Colour constancy and Fregean representationalism

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Abstract

All representationalists maintain that there is a necessary connection between an experience’s phenomenal character and intentional content; but there is a disagreement amongst representationalists regarding the nature of those intentional contents that are necessarily connected to phenomenal character. Russellian representationalists maintain that the relevant contents are composed of objects and/or properties, while Fregean representationalists maintain that the relevant contents are composed of modes of presentation of objects and properties. According to Fregean representationalists such as David Chalmers and Brad Thompson, the Fregean variety of the view is preferable to the Russellian variety because the former can accommodate purported counterexamples involving spectrum inversion without illusion and colour constancy while the latter cannot. I maintain that colour constancy poses a special problem for the Fregean theory in that the features of the theory that enable it handle spectrum inversion without illusion cannot be extended to handle colour constancy. I consider the two most plausible proposals regarding how the Fregean view might be developed in order to handle colour constancy—one of which has recently been defended by Thompson (Australas J Philos 87:99–117, 2009)—and argue that neither is adequate. I conclude that Fregean representationalism is no more able to accommodate colour constancy than is Russellian representationalism and, as such, ought to be rejected.