The Non-Naturalness of Colour Categories

  • Don Dedrick
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 274)


Virtually all studies of colour naming take place in the context of some idealized, two-dimensional representation of the colour space. The Munsell-based chip set has been mentioned. Other arrays with slightly different ordering principles have been utilized. These arrays (and there are many others beyond those deemed appropriate by anthropologists and linguists and psychologists) are conventional in the sense that differences among them reflect the different aims and purposes of their constructors. Nevertheless, arrays which are intended to represent the visual properties of colour—hue, saturation, and lightness—are based on similarity. As the philosopher Jonathan Westphal says of one standard representation, the double cone, “It is a significant fact that the overall order flows from one principle alone. Colours are to be placed near to one another according to relative similarity” (Westphal 1988, p. 121).


Colour Space Colour Word Colour Sample Colour Naming Colour Category 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Don Dedrick
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of VictoriaCanada

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