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Philosophical Studies

, Volume 175, Issue 8, pp 1963–1983 | Cite as

A new inverted spectrum thought experiment

  • Richard MontgomeryEmail author
Article
  • 230 Downloads

Abstract

A version of the inverted spectrum thought experiment that disconfirms functionalism for the case of humans’ color experiences has typically been thought to require a certain kind of balancing act. What one needs, it has typically been thought, is a mapping of color experiences onto other color experiences that preserves the similarity and difference relationships among those experiences and the aspects of perceived colors underlying those similarities and differences. However, there are good reasons for being suspicious about whether that is possible when the palette of color experiences is that available to humans with normal vision. The new version of the thought experiment constructed here doesn’t depend on preserving those relationships. I argue that there is a coherent, metaphysically possible scenario in which two human color experiences—any two—can be seen to be functionally equivalent. The upshot is that functionalism fails for all human color experiences.

Keywords

Inverted spectrum Functionalism Color vision 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Many people have affected my thinking about this topic, including an anonymous referee for Philosophical Studies. I especially wish to thank Joseph Baltimore, Larry Hardin, and Adam Podlaskowski for their diligent readings of earlier drafts and their perceptive comments. Adam, in particular, has read and commented on more drafts of this paper than I can remember.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.West Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA

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