Whorfian Effects in Color Perception: Deep or Shallow?

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Abstract
This paper discusses, from the point of view of the philosophy of psychology, recent behavioral and brain studies showing effects of the diversity of language vocabulary on color perception. I show that in the domain of colors the traditional Relativism-Universalism dychotomy is explanatorily inadequate. The interesting alternative on the table is rather whether language affects perception by establishing long-term, stable habits of seeing the world (habitual or deep whorfianism), or rather by providing short-term online cues during the perceptual process (Language-as-a-Meddler effect, or shallow). I argue that at the moment the evidence underdetermines both interpretations and the question is open. I also clarify that shallow whorfianism is not a synonym for ‘trivial whorfianism’, as some authors have suggested.
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Archival date: 2022-07-13
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2015-03-22

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