Color Manipulation and Comparative Color

They’re not all compatible

Authored by: Derek H. Brown

The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Animal Minds

Print publication date:  July  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138822887
eBook ISBN: 9781315742250
Adobe ISBN:


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Comparative color vision has had a rich, positive impact on basic issues in the philosophy of color and philosophy of perception. 1 Most centrally, it has demonstrated an unexpected variety of color visual architecture and of uses to which color vision has and can be put by various animals. Architectural differences include differences in the numbers of cones, cone sensitivities (differences within the same range of the electromagnetic spectrum and by virtue of extending to different ranges), the processing of cone outputs, the presence and absence of oil droplets, and so on. The uses of color vision across species have some broad, uninformative commonalities (color vision helps creatures see) and differences that contain important lessons about both humans and nonhumans (see below). This knowledge has forced us to: more broadly conceive of what the function of color vision is within an organism or species; recognize substantive differences in color perceptions across species, fundamentally broader differences than we are forced to recognize within humanity; speculatively conclude that various nonhuman animals have categorically different color experiences from our own; and push color ontology, as many phenomena do, away from any simple form of color objectivism.

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