Wednesday, August 18, 2004



Philosophy 321C

Fall 2004

Tuesday 7:30pm - 10:30pm, Pettingill 151

Casey O'Callaghan


73/75 Campus Avenue, Room 3


Traditionally, philosophical thought about perception and consciousness has focused primarily on vision--in particular, on color and color experience.  Philosophers interested in the nature and content of experience, however, have much to learn through attention to the distinctive features of other sensory modalities and the things we perceive through them.  In this seminar, we examine what colors are, what sorts of things are colored, and the relationship between colors and our experiences of them.  We then investigate the nature of sounds and of auditory experience, and address the questions associated with developing a philosophical theory of auditory perception.  Prerequisite:  211 or 232 or 234 or 235 or 236 or 245 or 272 or 274.



1.  Readings on Color, Volume 1:  The Philosophy of Color [C], edited by Alex Byrne and David Hilbert (MIT, 1997).  A recent collection of papers on color and color perception.  Many of the readings from the first part of the course are drawn from this.


2. Color for Philosophers:  Unweaving the Rainbow [UR], C.L. Hardin (Hackett, 1988)  We'll discuss selections from this monograph throughout the term, but you should be reading through it in conjunction with the course.


Recommended Resources:

1.  Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "Color":

2.  David Hilbert, Color and Color Perception:  A Study in Anthropocentric Realism

3.  Byrne and Hilbert, Volume 2:  The Science of Color

4.  Evan Thompson, Color Vision

5.  Michael Tye, Color, Consciousness, and Content

6.  Barry Stroud, The Quest for Reality: Subjectivism and the Metaphysics of Colour


Course Requirements and Grading:

1.  Weekly discussion pieces (all 10 needed to pass): 1/5

2.  Attendance, participation, and presentations (2-3 each): 1/5

3.  Midterm paper (8 pages) or exam:  1/5

4.  Final paper (8-10 pages) or exam:  2/5


Schedule, Topics, and Readings:


Part I:  The Metaphysics and Perception of Color


Week 1:  Preliminaries and Background

Danto, Forward to Hardin's Color for Philosophers


Week 2:  Color Science and the Philosophy of Color

Hilbert, Chapter 1, "Conceptions of Color"

Hardin, Chapter 1, "Color Perception and Science" [UR]



Thompson, Chapter 1, "The Received View"

Nassau, "The Causes of Color"


Week 3:  Colors as Physical Properties

Smart, "On Some Criticisms of a Physicalist Theory of Colors" [C]

Jackson and Pargetter, "An Objectivist's Guide to Subjectivism about Color" [C]    

Byrne and Hilbert, "Colors and Reflectances" [C]


         Byrne and Hilbert, "Introduction" [C]

Armstrong, "Smart and the Secondary Qualities" [C]


Week 4:  Colors as Dispositions

Johnston, "How to Speak of the Colors" and "Postscript: Visual Experience" [C]

Byrne, "Colors and Dispositions"


Week 5:  Are There Any Colors? Are Colors in the Head?

Hardin, Chapter 2, "The Ontology of Color" [UR]

Boghossian and Velleman, "Color as a Secondary Quality" [C]



         Hardin, Chapter 3, "Phenomenology and Physiology" [UR] (esp. to p. 154)

Jackson, "Epiphenomenal Qualia"

Shoemaker, "The Inverted Spectrum"


Week 6:  Colors as Simple Properties

Campbell, "A Simple View of Color" [C]

Broakes, "The Autonomy of Color" [C]



         Johnston, "The Manifest" sections "Colors as Qualities" and "Hylomorphism"

Watkins, selections

Yablo, "Singling out Properties," Philosophical Perspectives 9 (1995)

Batty, "Na´ve Color"


PART II:  Sounds and Auditory Experience


Week 7:  Introduction; Sound Science; Phenomenology of Auditory Experience

Selections from Bregman, Blauert, and Zwicker & Fastl

"The Locations of Sounds"

O'Shaughnessy, selections from Consciousness and the World

Nudds, "Experiencing the Production of Sounds"


Week 8:  Three Theories of Sound

Pasnau, "What is Sound?"

O'Callaghan, "Sounds and Events" and "What is the Wave Conception of Sounds?"


Week 9:  Echoes


Week 10:  Audible Qualities


PART III:  Other Modalities and their Objects


Week 11:  Other Modalities; Perceptual Theorizing across the Modalities


Week 12:  Conclusions.