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Colin McGinn

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199251582

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199251584.001.0001

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The Appearance of Colour

The Appearance of Colour

(p.314) 16 The Appearance of Colour
Knowledge and Reality

Colin McGinn (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

In this previously unpublished follow‐up to ‘Another Look at Colour’, McGinn evaluates a possible objection to the account developed there. In McGinn's view, ‘colours are simple monadic primitive properties whose instantiation supervenes on complex relational dispositions to appear to perceivers in such‐and‐such ways’. According to the objection (which McGinn labels ‘the neutrality thesis’), the phenomenology of colour experience is wholly uninformative with respect to the ontological nature of colour (i.e. the kind of property colours must be); thus, for instance, the question of whether colours are identical to, or rather supervene on, dispositions need not arise. McGinn argues against the neutrality thesis, ultimately defending a kind of externalism about perceptual content, according to which ‘visual experience is a relation between a conscious subject and a cluster of properties, which may or may not be instantiated’. McGinn concludes by criticizing McDowell's neo‐Kantian view of perceptual appearance.

Keywords:   colour, content, disposition, dispositional theory, externalism, internalism, McDowell, neutrality thesis, perceptual content, properties

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