When, in ordinary life, we speak of the colour of the table, we only mean the sort of colour which it will seem to have to a normal spectator from an ordinary point of view under usual conditions of light. But the other colours which appear under other conditions have just as good a right to be considered real; and therefore, to avoid favouritism, we are compelled to deny that, in itself, the table has any one particular colour.

[Problems of philosophy, Bertrand Russell, Chapter I]

What does "have just as good a right" mean?\


  • I wonder if you're just bothered by the word order. Russell means that the right of one color is as good as the right of another color. Their rights are equally good.
    – Chaim
    Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 22:53
  • Please update the question - to me it reads "has just as a right" - missing the "good" and rendering it very confusing. Commented Nov 14, 2019 at 1:14

3 Answers 3


As you can see here https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/right

one meaning of "right" as a noun is "a moral or legal entitlement to have or do something."

So Russell is saying (somewhat figuratively) this. If the table appears to have different colors under different conditions, it is not proper to attribute one color to the table. Any of the possible colors is equally valid. (I happen to believe that this is nonsense, but it is what is meant.)

It is somewhat figurative because we normally do not think of colors as having moral or legal entitlements.


Perhaps you are puzzled by the adjectival phrase just as good? I'll paraphrase: "These other colours have a right to be considered real, and their right is exactly as valid as the first colour's right."


As far as I can understand the sentence is like this:

Other colors have just as good a right as the specific color (we are talking about) to be considered real.

It means although the specific color, discussed in the first part of the paragraph, is considered real, other colors have also the same ability and the right to be considered as real.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .