Relationalism about perceptible properties and the principle of charity

Synthese 193 (9) (2016)
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Abstract

Color relationalism holds that the colors are constituted by relations to subjects. The introspective rejoinder against this view claims that it is opposed to our phenomenally-informed, pre-theoretic intuitions. The rejoinder seems to be correct about how colors appear when looking at how participants respond to an item about the metaphysical nature of color but not when looking at an item about the ascription of colors. The present article expands the properties investigated to sound and taste and inspects the mentioned asymmetry, with a particular focus on the principle of charity. Using a metaphysical item, we find that color and sound are no different from shape, our control for a clearly anti-relational property. Taste, on the other hand, is no different from likability, our control for a clearly relational property. Importantly, we find that the disparity between metaphysical and ascription items is due to participants using a principle of charity to interpret disagreement cases such that both parties can be correct.

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