Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

Orange laser beams are not illusory: The need for a plurality of “real” color ontologies

Lieven Decock a1 and Jaap van Brakel a2

a1 Faculty of Philosophy, Tilburg University, 5000 LE Tilburg, The Netherlands
a2 Institute of Philosophy, University of Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium


Reflectance physicalism only provides a partial picture of the ontology of color. Byrne & Hilbert’ account is unsatisfactory because the replacement of reflectance functions by productance functions is ad hoc, unclear, and only leads to new problems. Furthermore, the effects of color contrast and differences in illumination are not really taken seriously: Too many “real” colors are tacitly dismissed as illusory, and this for arbitrary reasons. We claim that there cannot be an all-embracing ontology for color.