Joshua Gert presents an original account of color properties, and of our perception of them. He employs a general philosophical strategy - neo-pragmatism - which challenges an assumption made by virtually all other theories of color. Neo-pragmatism rejects the standard representationalist strategy for solving "placement problems" in philosophy, which relies on the existence of a substantive notion of reference and truth. Instead, it makes use of deflationary accounts
of such semantic notions. Applied to the domain of color, the result is a view according to which colors are primitive properties of objects, irreducible to physical or dispositional properties. In this way they are more like numbers, and less like natural kinds such as water or gold. Objective
colors are also - contrary to current dogma - insufficiently determinate in their nature to allow them to be associated with precise points in standard color spaces. A given color can present different veridical appearances in different viewing circumstances, and to different normal viewers. It is these appearances, which are to be understood in an adverbial way, that can be located in standard color spaces. In explaining the distinction between objective color and color appearance, a central
analogy to which Gert appeals is that between the perceptible three-dimensional shape of an object, and the various ways in which that shape appears from various perspectives. Primitive Colors also offers an account of color constancy, a moderated version of representationalism about visual
experience, and a criticism of the thesis of the transparency of experience.
Joshua Gert is the Francis S. Haserot Professor of Philosophy at The College of William and Mary. In addition to his work on color, he is also the author of Brute Rationality: Normativity and Human Action (2004) and Normative Bedrock: Response-Dependence, Rationality and Reasons (2012), both of which develop a particular account of rational action and normative practical reasons.