The Nature of Attention

Philosophy Compass 6 (11):842-853 (2011)
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Abstract

What is attention? Attention is often seen as a subject matter for the hard sciences of cognitive and brain processes, and is understood in terms of sub-personal mechanisms and processes. Correspondingly, there still is a stark contrast between the central role attention plays for the empirical investigation of the mind in psychology and the neurosciences, and its relative neglect in philosophy. Yet, over the past years, several philosophers have challenged the standard conception. A number of interesting philosophical questions concerning the nature of attention arise. This article provides an introduction to contemporary debates concerning these questions. In particular, it discusses the question of how the pre-theoretic conception of attention might be reconciled with a scientific conception, arguments that provide support for an anti-reductivist theory of attention, and sketches several recent anti-reductivist theories and their inter-relations.

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Author's Profile

Sebastian Watzl
University of Oslo

Citations of this work

Know-how as Competence. A Rylean Responsibilist Account.David Löwenstein - 2017 - Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann.
Attention Is Amplification, Not Selection.Peter Fazekas & Bence Nanay - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (1):299-324.
The Epistemology of Attention.Catharine Saint-Croix - forthcoming - In Kurt Sylvan, Ernest Sosa, Jonathan Dancy & Matthias Steup (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Epistemology, 3rd edition. Wiley Blackwell.
Unity in the Scientific Study of Intellectual Attention.Mark Fortney - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (4):444-459.

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References found in this work

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas Samuel Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Otto Neurath.
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The Principles of Psychology.William James - 1890 - London, England: Dover Publications.
What is it like to be a bat?Thomas Nagel - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50.

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