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date: 18 November 2018

Abstract and Keywords

The understanding of the primary-secondary quality distinction has shifted focus from the mechanical philosophers’ proposal of primary qualities as explanatorily fundamental to current theorists’ proposal of secondary qualities as metaphysically perceiver dependent. The chapter critically examines this shift and current arguments to uphold the primary-secondary quality distinction on the basis of the perceiver dependence of colour; one focus of the discussion is the role of qualia in these arguments. It then describes and criticizes reasons for characterizing colour, smell, taste, sound, and warmth and colour as secondary qualities on the basis of our common-sense divisions among sensory modalities; Grice’s proposal for distinguishing among the sensory modalities is focal here. The general conclusion is that reasons for drawing the primary-secondary quality distinction are unconvincing.

Keywords: mechanical philosophy, Locke, perceiver dependence, qualia, colour, sensory modalities, primary qualities, secondary qualities

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