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05/20/2015

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Hi Jesse,

My view is that there would be no disagreement between the human and the alien, even if they somehow they would manage to figure out that they experience things differently. If the human says the object is red, then the object is almost certainly red (“red” is a word in English, and the human is good at finding redness), regardless of how the alien perceives it.
If the alien says the object is alien-green, then it almost certainly is. But the alien wouldn't deny that the object is red – or if she did, she would be making a mistake.

So, I would say that no adjustment is needed. If I sincerely say a traffic light was red, normally I would be making a true statement, regardless of how aliens (or some other animals here on Earth) would perceive it.

As for whether the human would resist the statement if she's a color realist, that depends on how you define “realism”; different people mean different things by that.
I consider myself a color realist, but I certainly don't claim that the quale exists in the apple, or the traffic light, though I do say that the apple is red, and so does the traffic light – I don't think ordinary color words mean or imply by their meanings that the quale exists in the object in question, even if the color is the color of an object.

So, I would say things like:

1. Color matters are normally matters of fact or objective matters, not matters of opinion or subjective matters, in the usual sense of the words.
So, for example, if Alice says the traffic light was green, but Bob says it was red, at least one of them is making a false statement (it might be that it was yellow, for example, so they're both making false statements).
2. Human usual statements assigning color are usually justified and true.
3. Humans usually have color knowledge.

In any case, the relevant disagreement is not terminological. More precisely, you seem to be defending a [substantive, not epistemic] color error theory, and your argument seems to depend on an implicit premise that ordinary color words have certain ontological commitments to things that do not exist in the world. If so, the reason I disagree with your conclusion (terminology aside) is that I don't think there are such commitments – i. e., I disagree with the conceptual analysis of color words that is implicit in your argument for a color error theory.

The moral case is similar in that regard.
For example, if the counterparts of 1., 2. and 3. in the case of moral wrongness, blameworthiness, moral obligations, desert, etc., hold (as I think they do), that would entail that moral realism is true under some conceptions of realism (included mine), but that would not entail that moral realism is true under some other conceptions of realism.
However, regardless of how one defines “moral realism”, your argumentation implies that the relevant counterparts of 2. and 3. in the moral case aren't true (I'm not sure about the counterpart of 1.). As in the color case, your argument depends on implicit premises about the meaning of moral terms, and more precisely, about the some of the ontological commitments of moral claims. Our disagreement here seems to be about the conceptual analysis in some of the implicit premises of your argument.

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