Spectral Reflectances and Commensurateness

William A. Sharp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Yablo has argued (1995) the received view in philosophy, that spectral surface reflectances (SSRs) are the causes of color-experience, is mistaken. SSRs, he says, are not commensurate with our experiences and so are not their causes. This motivated Yablo to posit sui generis, “unscientific” color properties to fill the resultant causal lacunae (cf. Watkins in Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83:33–52, 2005;Watkins in Philosophical Studies 150:123–137, 2010; Gert, in: Brown & Macpherson (eds) Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Colour, Routledge, 2021). This move, I argue, only works if no physical posits commensurate with our experiences exist to fill the same lacunae. And there are, today, familiar such posits: dispositions to reflect long-, medium-, and short-wavelength light (Bradley & Tye in Journal of Philosophy 98:469, 2001; cf. Koenderink in Color for the Sciences, MIT Press, 2010). Moreover, these dispositions are commensurate with our cone and opponent-neural states too, those states, more than our color-experiences, demanding paradigmatically physical causes. The above, conjoined with the platitude that colors are the causes of color-experience, motivates reducing colors to the noted (physical) dispositions.

Original languageEnglish
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Logic


Dive into the research topics of 'Spectral Reflectances and Commensurateness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this