Metameric surfaces: the ultimate case against color physicalism and representational theories of phenomenal consciousness


In this paper I argue that there are problems with the foundations of the current version of physicalism about color. In some sources laying the foundations of physicalism, types of surface reflectance corresponding to (veridical) color perceptions are characterized by making reference to properties of the observer. This means that these surface attributes are not objective (i.e. observer-independent). This problem casts doubt on the possibility of identifying colors with types of surface reflectance. If this identification cannot be maintained, that in turn threatens representationalist theories of phenomenal consciousness: there remains no objective, observer-independent property that color experiences represent - hence no representational content, in terms of semantic externalism, can be attributed to color experiences. I offer an alternative account of color and conclude that further empirical study is required to do justice to the basic claims of color physicalism.

Author's Profile

Zoltan Jakab
Eotvos Lorand University of Sciences


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