[hist-analytic] Question for Bruce on

Baynesr at comcast.net Baynesr at comcast.net
Tue Nov 10 09:40:21 EST 2009

All of this business about my "howlers" and lack of understanding etc 
would be unnecessary if Bruce would fill in the following blank as best 
he can: 

"Let us use 'discrete color' to refer to ..." 

My comment on the continuum of colors has to be taken in connection 
with Bruce's identifying colors in terms of what people claim to see. If there 
are always two colors that the seers cannot discriminate then there 
is no such thing, for them, as discrete colors. Of course, it does not 
follow, e.g., that the fact that the real number line is continuous that 
there are no discrete numbers. I would never argue such a thing; but if 
one were to say that Tom and Mary cannot distinguish two different weights 
that are close together, given that the metric for weight is continuous 
then for the observers there are no discrete weights. Similarly, if 
it is always the case that between any two colors there is a third, 
and if the discrimination of individuals is limited, then there will be 
no discrete colors for these individuals, notwithstanding their 
belief reports. 

Part of the problem is that Bruce is unclear as to what 
he means by 'discrete color'. There is another problem, one that 
explains Putnam's concern without explaining Bruce's seeming indifference. 

'Redder' is transitive; if colors are discrete I can't see how this 
is to be explained. Nor do I see how the irreflexivity of 'redder'can 
be explained; nor how the asymmetry can be explained. Another problem 
for Bruce is that he on some occasions appears to argue colors are objects 
of science; then observation; then something else in contrast to Moore's 
universals. This creates uncertainty. 

I think Bruce gets wrong his attempt at making use of fuzzy sets, just 
as I believe he fails to understand the point of meaning postulates in 
Carnap's sense. The contrast with Putnam will make this clear, I believe. 

I'm making this business on the "two color" problem something of a larger 
"deal" than Bruce's discussion would suggest is warranted, but it serves 
us well to examine it, because the nature of the a priori is well illustrated 
by these examples. 


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Bruce Aune" <aune at philos.umass.edu> 
To: hist-analytic at simplelists.com 
Sent: Tuesday, November 10, 2009 7:03:18 AM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern 
Subject: Fwd: Question for Bruce on 

Begin forwarded message: 

From: Baynesr at comcast.net 

Date: November 10, 2009 6:56:24 AM EST 

To: Bruce Aune < aune at philos.umass.edu > 

Subject: Re: Question for Bruce on 


I suspect you forgot to send this to the list. I thought, at first, it was just a 
transmission delay to the Approval site, but apparently you hit 'Reply' 
rather than 'Reply All' or some such thing. So just resend to Hist-Analytic 
and it'll go through. 



----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Bruce Aune" < aune at philos.umass.edu > 
To:   Baynesr at comcast.net 
Sent: Monday, November 9, 2009 10:19:59 AM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern 
Subject: Re: Question for Bruce on 

I think my exchanges with Steve have gone on about as far as they should, because no matter how carefully I describe my position, Steve finds a way of misunderstanding what I say.  I will say (for the last time) just a couple of things about his continued failure to understand, and then point out an instance of what G.E. Moore would have called a "howler" in his reasoning. But this is my last post on the subject; our discussion is going nowhere. 
First, Steve’s continued misunderstanding: 
1.  I said the   set  of red shades is fuzzy because the set is "not sharply delimited.” “There are," I said,” a great many clear cases of red shades (vermillion, scarlet, red madder would be instances) but there are also many borderline cases."  Steve responds, "Well, then, it appears there are no determinate colors! And if there were we still would know what they are. You cannot have a determinate color when that color is understood as made up of "fuzzy sets."   This contains a bad inference and an almost complete misunderstanding of what I said.   The fact that there are borderline cases shows that the   set  of shades is fuzzy; it does not show [here is the bad inference] that vermillion, scarlet, and red madder do not exist.  They are examples I gave of what I mean by “determinate colors.” 

2.  Steve asks," Now if we form a set consisting of determinate shades, then wherein lies the fuzziness?" My answer: The fuzziness is the result of the uncertainty of where the borderline cases belong; they are not definitely in the set; they have a probability of being in it that is less than 1. (Fuzzy sets have probabilistic membership conditions.)  

3.  Steve says, "You cannot have a determinate color when that color is understood as made up of ‘fuzzy sets.’”   I never said or implied that a determinate color is made up of fuzzy sets.   I said determinate colors   are   members   of certain fuzzy sets. 

4.     To my remark, made in my preceding post, “"The ball you see (assuming it to be homogeneous in color) 
is, if red, a determinate shade of red," Steve replied: “All shades are determinate it would seem. But what do you mean when you say this?” My answer:     In saying this I was giving an example of the sort of thing I was referring to when I use the expression “a determinate color.” 

5.     Steve is greatly impressed by Putnam’s definition of a determinate color, which is built on the relational primitive, “exactly the same color as.”     But how are we to understand this primitive?     What are the terms of the relation it denotes?     Aren’t they determinate colors?   They certainly aren’t generic ones. 

I now come to Steve’s howler.     He said, “If color is a continuum then in the sense that there is always a color between any two others there are no discrete colors, which is the view I take.”     Isn’t this analogous to saying, “If the relation   SMALLER THAN   holding between real numbers is dense—such that if x < y, there is a z such that x < z and z < y—then there are no real numbers”?     Steve might reply, “I said there are no “discrete colors,” not no colors at all,” but this response raises the question, “Just what are the colors between which there is always another color?” If these colors aren’t “definite,” what are they?     What is Steve talking about? 

I think Steve has gone around the bend talking about color being a continuum.     Suppose I go to a paint store and buy a can of Forest Green paint. I use it to plaint a lawn chair. (I have actually done this many times.) Isn’t the chair I successfully painted now Forest Green in color?     And isn’t that a definite color? (It is in fact another example of what I call a determinate color.)     Where is the color that is continuous with the color of this chair?     And if you can find it for me, show me the color that is between the two—and so on and so on and so on….     What reason is there for believing that the colors we see belong to a color continuum, a continuum of visible (seeable) colors?     I certainly can’t make infinite discriminations.     My computer monitor is capable of displaying “millions of colors,” but not infinitely many of them.     Am I supposed to be capable of discriminating more colors than my computer can display? 


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