Color-judgment expressivism?

March 18, 2009

Hey guys,  

I don’t know too much about the philosophy of color, except for what you learn from examples people use in discussions about other topics. I’ve noticed that some people, to take one example, think that we should be error theorists about color: we falsely believe that surfaces have these mind-independent color features that they don’t really have, and therefore our color-judgments attributing these properties to surfaces are all systematically erroneous.  This, if I am not mistaken, is Velleman’s view. He brings this up in a discussion about whether people’s belief in free will is some kind of systematic illusion of a similar sort.  Other people, like Gibbard, think that an error-theory about color-judgments is too extreme; we should not attribute systematic errors to the folk unless no other, friendlier theory is available.  One type of theory of a friendlier sort takes color-judgments to be judgments about dispositional properties: we judge things to be such that they tend to look a certain way to people.   But, what are some other possible views?

Here’s what I am specifically interested in knowing: do you guys know if any philosophers have given expressivist views about color judgments?  The idea would be something like this.  In saying, for example, “the sky is blue” what people are doing is expressing their mental state of seeing the sky as blue.  Now, what is their seeing it as blue supposed to mean here?  Well, perhaps I would have done better to say something like “they express their mental state of its looking a certain particular way to them”.  So, the state of judging something to have a certain color is closely tied, on this view, to the state of something looking/appearing a certain way to you.  And, if you say that the thing has the color in question, then you are expressing this state of mind, rather than reporting it.  (This, by the way, seems right: in calling something blue it seems better to say that I am expressing my state of mind of seeing it as blue than to say that I report its looking to blue to me.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Zillions of Beliefs?

March 12, 2009

Here’s a fun one:

  1. Anyone who knows basic maths knows that 2+2=4.
  2. If someone knows that 2+2=4, then that person believes that 2+2=4.
  3. The known proposition in premises 1 and 2 (i.e. that 2+2=4) can be replaced by a very large number of other propositions (e.g. that 2+3=5 or that 5-1=4) while maintaining the truth of the premises.
  4. Therefore, anyone who knows basic maths has a very large  number of beliefs (countably-many?).
  5. Regular people do not have a large number of occurent beliefs.
  6. Therefore, many of the beliefs of regular people are non-occurent.

I’ve heard a few people complain that this idea of a non-occurent or implicit belief is non-sensical or elusive.  If you’re one of those people, which premise do you reject?