Minds and Machines

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 213–229 | Cite as

The Uses of Colour Vision: Ornamental, Practical, and Theoretical

  • M. Chirimuuta
  • F. A. A. Kingdom


What is colour vision for? In the popular imagination colour vision is for “seeing the colours” — adding hue to the achromatic world of shape, depth and motion. On this view colour vision plays little more than an ornamental role, lending glamour to an otherwise monochrome world. This idea has guided much theorising about colour within vision science and philosophy. However, we argue that a broader approach is needed. Recent research in the psychology of colour demonstrates that colour vision is integral to a variety of visual processes, helping us to perform many types of visual tasks. We discuss some of this research and consider its implications for philosophical theories of colour.


Philosophy of mind Philosophy of perception Philosophy of colour Psychophysics Vision science 



M. Chirimuuta would like to thank members of the 2012 and 2014 Perception seminars at the University of Pittsburgh for many helpful comments on this material. Supported by Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) grant #MOP 12339 given to F. A. A. Kingdom.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History and Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.McGill Vision Research Unit, Department of OphthalmologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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