Colour, Perception, Ideas
I defend a ‘naive realist’ (‘primitivist’) theory of colour. This is the conjunction of two theses. First, colours are mind-independent: colour is one thing, our experience of colour another. Second, colours are sui generis: colours are not physical properties.    
* I argue that the common sense view of colour is that colours are mind-independent properties in ‘The Mind-Independence of Colour’. See also ‘Colour Relationalism, Contextualism, and Self-Locating Contents’
* Further papers defend the view that colours are mind-independent in response to different kinds of perceptual variation, including inter-species variation, intra-species variation in the perception of the ‘unique hues’, and variation in the perceptual conditions, especially the illumination.
* Naive realism is often thought to be committed to the thesis that Mark Johnston calls ‘Revelation’: that the intrinsic nature of colour is revealed in visual experience. In ‘Revelation and the Nature of Colour’, I argue that this is a mistake. Naive realism only represents a plausible alternative to physicalism if Revelation is false, and colours are sui generis properties that constitute a legitimate domain of empirical enquiry in their own right.
My work on colour is part of a wider project on the philosophy of perception. In general, I believe that the way we perceive the world to be is best explained by the way it really is. In other words, I am a also a naive realist about perception.
* Perceptual Constancy. As the perceptual conditions vary, objects look in some way the same and in some way different: think tilted pennies (shape constancy), cows in the distance (size constancy), and white walls partially in shadow (colour constancy). I argue that objects look in some way the same and in some way different as the perceptual conditions vary because objects really are in some way the same and in some way different as the conditions vary: in addition to their constant properties, objects instantiate circumstance-relative properties fixed by their constant properties and the perceptual conditions. I argue for the basic idea in Being Coloured and Looking Coloured’, and  am preparing a more detailed discussion.
* Hallucination and Imagination. Is hallucination more like imagination than perceptual experience? If it is, this suggests a version of disjunctivism that attempts to meet the challenge of giving a positive characterisation of hallucination (the ‘negative disjunct’).    
* Blurred Vision. When we remove our glasses, ‘things seem blurred’ without it being the case that things seem to be blurred. In ‘Blur’ I consider the view that in these cases our experiences ‘over-represent’ objects: we perceive their edges as being located at multiple locations.
* Seeing With Our Eyes Closed. In Seeing Dark Things, Roy Sorensen argues that we can see in the dark. I argue that if this is true, then we also see with our eyes closed: when we close our eyes, we see the dark space that our eyelids create.
Related to my work on colour and perception, I am also interested in early modern theories of ideas.
* Locke and the Nature of Ideas. I argue that Locke does not propose a theory of the nature of ideas. At best, Locke is simply neutral on the issue: like Boyle’s ecumenical attitude towards the nature of matter, Locke does not take sides on what was one of the most hotly debated issues of age. More interestingly, Locke thinks that the question of what ideas are is one of the questions that the enquiry into human understanding shows lies beyond the compass of human understanding: in this respect, Locke’s attitude to the nature of ideas is reminscent of Sydenham’s attitude towards the nature of disease.
* In Locke and Sensitive Knowledge I defend Locke against the claim that his definition of knowledge is inconsistent with the possibity of knowledge of the existence of things without the mind by sensation.
* Locke and the Primary-Secondary Quality Distinction. My discussion of Locke’s theory of ideas expands upon a brief discussion of ‘resemblance’ in ‘Mechanism, Resemblance and Secondary Qualities’, a paper in which I compare Locke’s argument for the primary-secondary quality distinction with Descartes’s argument for the distinction between mechanical modifications and sensible qualities. Which brings me back to colour...