Synthese 191 (2):187-211 (2014)

Philipp Koralus
Oxford University
Attention influences the character of conscious perceptual experience in intricate and surprising ways, including our experience of contrast, space, and time. These patterns of influence have been argued to cause trouble for the attractive thesis that differences in the character of conscious experience flow from differences in what we represent. I present a novel theory of the functional role of attention that has the resources for a systematic representationalist account of these phenomena. On the erotetic theory of attention, we bring an interest to the task of perception, captured as a question we seek to answer. Questions, as understood here, are contents that cognitive systems can represent rather than sentences. We process perceptual input as a putative answer to our question in a way that is modulated by attentional focus; attentional focus aims to pick out something that matches what our question is “about.” In certain cases, this yields a form of predictive coding: if the contribution of focus matches what our question is about, we take it to select one of the possible answers we are entertaining, even though our perceptual input by itself does not supply a full answer. The proposed account also provides a new account of the phenomenology of salience.
Keywords Attention  Semantics of questions  Consciousness  Phenomenal character  Predictive coding  Representationalism  Focus
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-013-0382-1
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Inferential Integrity and Attention.Carlos Montemayor - 2019 - Frontiers in Psychology 10.

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