Does Phenomenal Consciousness Overflow Attention? An Argument from Feature-Integration

Florida Philosophical Review 17 (1):28-44 (2017)
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In the past two decades a number of arguments have been given in favor of the possibility of phenomenal consciousness without attentional access, otherwise known as phenomenal overflow. This paper will show that the empirical data commonly cited in support of this thesis is, at best, ambiguous between two equally plausible interpretations, one of which does not posit phenomenology beyond attention. Next, after citing evidence for the feature-integration theory of attention, this paper will give an account of the relationship between consciousness and attention that accounts for both the empirical data and our phenomenological intuitions without positing phenomenal consciousness beyond attention. Having undercut the motivations for accepting phenomenal overflow along with having given reasons to think that phenomenal overflow does not occur, I end with the tentative conclusion that attention is a necessary condition for phenomenal consciousness.



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Joshua Myers
Universitat de Barcelona

Citations of this work

The Attending Mind.Carolyn Dicey Jennings - 2020 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

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References found in this work

On a confusion about a function of consciousness.Ned Block - 1995 - Brain and Behavioral Sciences 18 (2):227-–247.
Perceptual consciousness overflows cognitive access.Ned Block - 2011 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 15 (12):567-575.

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