Spectrum Inversion

In Derek Brown & Fiona Macpherson (eds.), Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Colour. Routledge (forthcoming)
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This chapter examines the spectrum inversion hypothesis as an argument against certain kinds of account of what it’s like to be conscious of color. The hypothesis aims to provide a counterexample to accounts of what it’s like to be conscious of color in non-qualitative terms, as well as to accounts of what it’s like to be conscious of color in terms of the representational content of conscious visual states (which, according to some philosophers, is in turn given an account in non-qualitative terms). I explain the hypothesis’s reasoning in sections 1 and 2. I then take up background issues: since the counterexample provided by the hypothesis is typically given as a possibility rather than an actuality, I briefly discuss the kind of possibility involved in section 3, and the methodologies used to evaluate the plausibility of possibilities in section 4. In section 5, I describe some general considerations that are commonly used against the spectrum inversion hypothesis. I take up attempts to support the hypothesis with findings from color science in section 6. I end with comments skeptical of both the motivation for the spectrum inversion hypothesis and the methodology used to support it.

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Peter Ross
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona


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