Course Description

This class will examine a variety of philosophical questions about color. Some of those questions are metaphysical:
  • Is color an objective property or is it subjective in important ways? (If the latter, in which ways?)
  • Are physical objects really colored? (If not, is anything?)
Our study of these questions will draw on issues in metaphysics that are not exclusively concerned with color: issues about objectivity, intrinsic properties, dispositions, reduction, elimination, and so on.

Other questions we'll be examining concern our perceptual experience of color:

  • Do you and I have the same experiences when we look at tomatoes?
  • Are those experiences representational?
  • Do they mislead us about the world?
Our study of these questions will draw on general issues in the philosophy of mind (having to do with mental representation, and its relation to consciousness and sensation), and in the theory of perception.

Throught the course we will be wrestling with the question: What is the proper relationship between science and philosophy in these various inquiries?

Who Should Take This Course?

This course is designed for grad students and undergraduates who have already taken many philosophy courses. The course will presuppose familiarity with basic issues in philosophy of mind; so students who take the course should have already taken a course like Phil 156, or something similar (e.g. a tutorial on perception or consciousness).

Familiarity with formal logic (such as you'd get by taking QR 22) will be very useful in this course, though it is not a prerequisite.

If you're unsure whether you're adequately prepared for the course, let us know what background you do have, and we'll let you know.

This course counts as one of the "Interdisciplinary Seminars" for juniors in the MBB program.

We may allow auditors in the class, but we're going to keep the group to around 16 people. So chances are good that we won't be able to allow auditors. (If we do permit auditors, they must also meet the minimum preparation requirements described above. And we'll expect them to attend regularly, and to do all the weekly work for the course.)

If it looks like there will be more people who want to take the class than we can accommodate, we will ask everybody to fill out a petition after the first class meeting (Monday Feb. 4). This will tell us who you are, and what kind of background you have. We'll let you know that evening who's allowed into the class.


Syllabus Handouts and Lecture Notes

Phil 157y meets on Mondays from 3-5, in Emerson Hall Room 310.

Contact Info

The course is taught by Professors James Pryor and Alison Simmons. You can reach Prof. Pryor as follows:

Office: Emerson 314
Office hours: Wednesdays 11-1 or immediately after class
Office Phone: 495-0518
Email: <>

You can reach Prof. Simmons as follows:

Office: Emerson 313
Office hours: Tuesdays 11-2, and Thursdays 3-4
Office Phone: 495-0516
Email: <>

Feel free to drop in for any reason during our office hours. (If we're already speaking with someone, let us know that you're waiting.) We are happy to talk about paper ideas, continue class discussion, and so on. If our office hours are inconvenient, we can arrange to meet by appointment. Or you can email us. We read our email often, and sometimes even respond to it promptly.

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