The unique hues and the argument from phenomenal structure
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Hardin’s (Color for philosophers: unweaving the rainbow, Hackett, Indianapolis, 1988) empirically-grounded argument for color eliminativism has defined the color realism debate for the last 30 years. By Hardin’s own estimation, phenomenal structure—the unique/binary hue distinction in particular—poses the greatest problem for color realism. Examination of relevant empirical findings shows that claims about the unique hues which play a central role in the argument from phenomenal structure should be rejected. Chiefly, contrary to widespread belief amongst philosophers and scientists, the unique hues do not play a fundamental role in determining all color appearances. Among the consequences of this result is that greater attention should be paid to certain proposals for putting the structure of phenomenal color into principled correspondence with surface reflectance properties. While color realism is not fully vindicated, it has much greater empirical plausibility than previously thought.
KeywordsColor Unique hues Opponent colors Hering Hue cancellation Hue scaling Surface reflectance Munsell
I am grateful to two anonymous referees of this journal for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper. I would also like to thank Kimberly Jameson and A. Kimball Romney for discussions that greatly aided my thinking on the issues addressed herein.
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