, Volume 79, Issue 5, pp 1173–1189 | Cite as

Colour Relationalism and the Real Deliverances of Introspection

  • Pendaran RobertsEmail author
  • James Andow
  • Kelly Schmidtke
Original Article


Colour relationalism holds that the colours are constituted by relations to subjects. Anti-relationalists have claimed that this view stands in stark contrast to our phenomenally-informed, pre-theoretic intuitions. Is this claim right? Cohen and Nichols’ recent empirical study suggests not, as about half of their participants seemed to be relationalists about colour. Despite Cohen and Nichols’ study, we think that the anti-relationalist’s claim is correct. We explain why there are good reasons to suspect that Cohen and Nichols’ experimental design skewed their results in favour of relationalism. We then run an improved study and find that most of our participants seem to be anti-relationalists. We find some other interesting things too. Our results suggest that the majority of ordinary people find it no less intuitive that colours are objective than that shapes are objective. We also find some evidence that when those with little philosophical training are asked about the colours of objects, their intuitions about colour and shape cases are similar, but when asked about people’s colour ascriptions, their intuitions about colour and shape cases differ.


Perceptual System Phenomenal Character Colour Experience Colour Relationalism Linguistic Difference 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We are especially grateful to Philip Percival, Jonathan Tallant, and Joshua Knobe for helpful comments. We would also like to thank an anonymous referee.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pendaran Roberts
    • 1
    Email author
  • James Andow
    • 1
  • Kelly Schmidtke
    • 2
  1. 1.University of NottinghamNottinghamUK
  2. 2.Behavioural Science CentreUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK

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