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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 Disunity of Colour

The Disunity of Colour

Chapter:
(p.177) 7 The Disunity of Colour
Source:
Seeing, Doing, and Knowing
Author(s):

Mohan Matthen (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199268509.003.0008

Colour vision has evolved independently in a variety of species. It is widely assumed that this is a case of convergence, of the same function appearing in separated phylogenetic paths. It is much more likely to be an instance of Darwin=s Principle of Divergence, that is, of a specialized function that enables a species to exploit an environmental resource unavailable to its less specialized ancestor. On this account, colour vision has a different function in phylogenetically unrelated occurrences. Moreover, it is much more closely integrated with its predecessor, that is, black-and-white vision, than we might intuitively think, the latter carrying a good deal of the burden in colour discrimination.

Keywords:   colour mosaic theory, convergence and divergence, Darwin, evolution, function, J. D. Mollon, phylogeny, sensory specialization

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