[hist-analytic] Response to Danny Frederick

Danny Frederick danny.frederick at tiscali.co.uk
Sat Aug 29 17:18:48 EDT 2009

Hi Bruce,

If all you meant to assert was the empty statement, and if that is all you
need for your arguments, then SOME of the issues I raise might have no
bearing on the matters that concerned you. But others will; namely, all
those that cast doubt on the notion of 'true colour' (in the ordinary
non-technical sense of colour), since that notion appears in the empty
statement and is what makes it empty.

But my comments were made on what you did assert, rather than on what you
might have intended to assert. And what you did assert was an equivalence
between colour identity and colour indiscernibility. Here is what you say

'If something is green-yellow in Harry's sense or yellowish-green in Mary's
sense, it cannot at that time also have any other determinate shade of
color. This incompatibility is not a matter of ontological fact that is
independent of classificatory conventions; it is a consequence of how we
individuate a thing's specific color at a time. We could restrict ourselves
to a purely generic means of attributing colors, calling things either
yellow, green, red, or blue, and so on; and if we did so, there would be no
definite error in our describing something with Harry's green-yellow shade
(which we would not then distinguish as such) as both green and yellow at
the same time.

'In discussing color incompatibility in the last chapter, I said that we do
in fact identify specific colors in a way that assumes indiscernibility as
an identity condition for them. We consider a determinate color A to be the
same as a determinate color B just when A and B are indistinguishable.'

And in footnote 36 on the same page: 'A more satisfactory [way] of
expressing this is to say that x and y (or regions on their surfaces) have
the same determinate color just when they are indistinguishable in color.'

For the reasons I gave (and perhaps others too), I think this is untenable,
whether or not you meant or needed to say it.

Best wishes,


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