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Seeing, Doing, and KnowingA Philosophical Theory of Sense Perception$
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Mohan Matthen

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199268504

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0199268509.001.0001

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The Semantic Theory of Colour Experience 1

The Semantic Theory of Colour Experience 1

Chapter:
(p.246) 11 The Semantic Theory of Colour Experience1
Source:
Seeing, Doing, and Knowing
Author(s):

Mohan Matthen (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199268509.003.0012

A standard philosophical approach to defining colour associates it with a ‘colour look‘ in standard circumstances. All extant plausible versions of this theory violate the condition that we should possess instinctive knowledge of colour. A more promising approach is a ‘semantic‘specification of the meaning of colour experiences, elaborated along the lines of Tarski=s semantic theory of truth: something is a particular colour if it really is the colour something looks to be when it presents the associated look. The semantic theory is elaborated by means of an analogy between sensory systems and measuring instruments. The proposal is that sensory systems provide measurements in an ‘auto-calibrated‘ scale: in terms, that is, of something like a re-identifiable pointer position that is not specified by reference to an independently defined scale.

Keywords:   Alfred Tarski, colour looks, colour properties, colour relativism, dispositional theories of colour, Mark Johnston, measurement, musical harmony, sensation, sensation as symbol, sensory knowledge

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