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Warwick Graduate Conference in the Philosophy of Mind

Conceptualism and The (Supposed) Non-Transitivity of Colour Indiscriminability
Charles Pelling (Reading)


In the philosophy of perception, the conceptualist asserts, and the non-conceptualist denies, that the representational content of experience is exclusively conceptual content. In this paper, I show that Delia Graff's recent arguments for the traditionally unpopular view that colour indiscriminability is transitive have important implications for the conceptualism versus non-conceptualism debate.

This is because (1) conceptualism can be true only if we possess context-dependent demonstrative colour concepts, and (2) only if colour indiscriminability is transitive can we possess such concepts.

This paper addresses (2). In order to establish its truth, I consider two accounts of demonstrative colour concept possession, those given by the two most prominent conceptualists, John McDowell and Bill Brewer. McDowell and Brewer each propose a condition that a subject must satisfy in order to possess a demonstrative colour concept. In the bulk of the paper, I am concerned to establish two things: first, that unless colour indiscriminability is transitive, the conceptualists' proposed conditions are unsatisfiable; and second, that at least one of these conditions must indeed be satisfied by any genuine demonstrative colour concept possessor.


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