Acta Analytica 36 (4):553-561 (2021)

Julie Wulfemeyer
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Philosophers of mind and language who advance causal theories face a sort of conjunction problem. When we say that the thing had in mind or the thing referred to is a matter of what causally impacted the thinker or speaker, we must somehow narrow down the long conjunction of items in a causal chain, all of which contributed to the having in mind, but only one of which becomes the object of thought or the linguistic referent. Here, I sketch a notion of cognitive focus intended to do this narrowing. The notion borrows three key aspects from visual focus and some technological aides—causation, amplification, and suppression. I suggest a broader application of this framework to address the conjunction problem not only in ordinary contexts of perceptual focus but also in evidence cases involving non-perceptual cognitive focus. I further suggest cognitive focus is helpful in distinguishing referential vs. attributive thought.
Keywords cognitive focus  causal theories  having in mind  reference
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s12136-021-00462-4
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,231
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

On Denoting.Bertrand Russell - 2005 - Mind 114 (456):873 - 887.
Naming and Necessity.S. Kripke - 1972 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 45 (4):665-666.
Reference and Definite Descriptions.Keith S. Donnellan - 1966 - Philosophical Review 75 (3):281-304.
Naming and Necessity.Saul A. Kripke - 1985 - Critica 17 (49):69-71.
The Causal Theory of Names.Gareth Evans - 1973 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 47 (1):187–208.

View all 21 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Towards a Sensible Bifurcationism.Jessica Pepp - 2022 - Theoria 88 (2):348-364.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

An Argumentativist Point of View in Cognitive Sociology.Alban Bouvier - 2007 - European Journal of Social Theory 10 (3):465-480.
Psychology in Cognitive Science: 1978–2038.Dedre Gentner - 2010 - Topics in Cognitive Science 2 (3):328-344.
The Social Motivation for Social Learning.Mark Nielsen - 2008 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 31 (1):33-33.
Diversity and the Division of Cognitive Labor.Ryan Muldoon - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (2):117-125.
Cognitive Anthropology Is a Cognitive Science.James S. Boster - 2012 - Topics in Cognitive Science 4 (3):372-378.


Added to PP index

Total views
10 ( #903,078 of 2,518,159 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #272,129 of 2,518,159 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes