Philosophical Studies

, Volume 149, Issue 2, pp 161–200 | Cite as

Non-transitive looks & fallibilism



Fallibilists about looks deny that the relation of looking the same as is non-transitive. Regarding familiar examples of coloured patches suggesting that such a relation is non-transitive, they argue that, in fact, indiscriminable adjacent patches may well look different, despite their perceptual indiscriminability: it’s just that we cannot notice the relevant differences in the chromatic appearances of such patches. In this paper, I present an argument that fallibilism about looks requires commitment to an empirically false consequence. To succeed in deflecting putative cases of non-transitivity, fallibilists would have to claim that there can’t be any perceptual limitations of any kind on human chromatic discrimination. But there are good reasons to think such limitations exist.


Chromatic appearances Looks Non-transitivity Phenomenal sorites arguments Perceptual limitations Veridical experience Fallibilism Colour Colour perception Perceptual discrimination 



Writing this paper was prompted by an as-always-helpful discussion with Daniel Friedrich. For comments on previous versions of this paper, thanks also to Daniel, to the members of the work-in-progress seminar at SMU, as well as two anonymous referees. A shorter version of this material was presented at the University of Sydney, UC Irvine, and at the Joint Session in Bristol: many thanks to those attending for their questions.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySouthern Methodist UniversityDallasUSA

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