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Phenomenal QualitiesSense, Perception, and Consciousness$
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Paul Coates and Sam Coleman

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198712718

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198712718.001.0001

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Can We Really See a Million Colours?

Can We Really See a Million Colours?

Chapter:
(p.274) 9 Can We Really See a Million Colours?
Source:
Phenomenal Qualities
Author(s):

David Papineau

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198712718.003.0010

Nearly all philosophers assume that human beings are capable of well over a million different conscious visual responses to coloured surfaces (and they then debate whether this shows that some mental representation is non-conceptual). This chapter denies the premise. The chapter argues that humans are capable of only a limited range of colour responses to surfaces presented singly (along with a gestalt ability to register that adjacently presented surfaces are different-in-colour). This may be counterintuitive, but it accommodates the empirical data better than the standard view. The argument the chapter puts forward also has the advantage of resolving various philosophical puzzles.

Keywords:   colour, perception, achromotopsia, sorites, just discriminable differences

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