Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

Color nominalism, pluralistic realism, and color science

Mohan Matthen a1

a1 Department of Philosophy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z1 Canada


Byrne & Hilbert are right that it might be an objective fact that a particular tomato is unique red, but wrong that it cannot simultaneously be yellowish-red (not only objectively, but from somebody else's point of view). Sensory categorization varies among organisms, slightly among conspecifics, and sharply across taxa. There is no question of truth or falsity concerning choice of categories, only of utility and disutility. The appropriate framework for color categories is Nominalism and Pluralistic Realism.