Justin Broackes Professor of Philosophy

I did my doctorate at Oxford in the philosophy of mind and language, though I was also developing interests in Descartes, Locke and Hume. Before moving to Brown, I taught at Oxford, as a Fellow of Oriel College.


My present research is on issues in metaphysics and the theory of perception, and their connections with the history of the subject. Special areas of interest include: Theory of Color and Color-Perception, from the Ancient Greeks to the present; Color-Blindness; and the Notion of Substance, and what became of that idea in the 17th and 18th centuries and after. In addition, I am working on a book on Iris Murdoch's The Sovereignty of Good and am editing a collection of essays on her work.


I have recently been a Visiting Professor in Paris, in the Department of Cognitive Studies at the Ecole normale supérieure, and at the Institut Jean Nicod.

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas

scholarly work

Iris Murdoch, Philosopher,(ed.), Oxford University Press. With Introduction by Justin Broackes, pp. 1-92.

"Where do the Unique Hues come from?", Review of Philosophy and Psychology 2: 601-628.

'What do the Color-Blind see?', in J. Cohen & M. Matthen, eds., Color Ontology and Color Science (MIT Press, 2010), 291-405.

"Unilateral Colour Vision Defects and the Dimensions of Dichromat Experience", Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics 30 (2010): 1-13.

"Autos kath' hauton in The Clouds: Was Socrates himself a defender of separable soul and separate Forms?" Classical Quarterly 59 [1] (2009): 46-58.

"Colour, World and Archimedean Metaphysics: Stroud and the Quest for Reality," Erkenntnis, 66 (2007), 27-71. Also published in R. Schumacher, ed., Perspectives on Colour Perception (Springer)

"Black and White and the Inverted Spectrum", Philosophical Quarterly, 57 (2007), 161-175

"Substance," Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 2005-06: 131-166

"Do Opponent Process Theories help Physicalism about Colour? " Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26[6] (2004)

Modern Philosophy, double issue of Philosophical Topics Vol. 31 nos. 1 & 2 (2003), edited by Justin Broackes, Christopher Hill, and Alison Simmons

"Hume, Belief and Personal Identity", in Peter Millican, ed., Reading Hume on Human Understanding (Oxford University Press, 2002)

"Aristotle, Objectivity and Perception," Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, 1999: 57-113

"Hume" in T. Honderich ed., Oxford Companion to Philosophy (Oxford, 1995)

"Did Hume hold a Regularity Theory of Causation?" British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 1993, 99-114.

"The Autonomy of Colour" in K. Lennon & D. Charles eds., Reduction, Explanation, and Realism (Oxford University Press, 1992): 421-65.
Reprinted in A. Byrne & D. Hilbert, eds., Readings on Color (MIT Press, 1997)

research overview

I work on the history of 17th- and 18th-century philosophy, as well as topics in present-day Metaphysics and the Theory of Perception.

research statement

In addition to my work on Color Blindness, I have two projects on Iris Murdoch, a major philosophical voice in the 1950s and 1960s. Arguing that neither analytic linguistic philosophy nor Continental existentialism did justice to the nature of morality, Murdoch developed an impressive and influential third approach, though her founding role is perhaps too little appreciated. I am editor of a volume of essays on Murdoch's work, with contributions from John Bayley, Martha Nussbaum, Peter Conradi, Maria Antonaccio and others. And I am writing a Commentary on her book The Sovereignty of Good . A third and longer term project (begun with a 2005 paper) is to examine the battles and confusions over the Aristotelian notion of Substance since the 17th and 18th centuries--and to see how much of that notion is worth rehabilitating.

funded research

N/A