In this paper, I will draw a distinction between explanatory accounts of attention and identifying accounts. I will then use that distinction in order to (a) diagnose a common confusion in the science and philosophy of attention, (b) criticise some extant philosophical theories of attention, and (c) propose and defend an identifying account of attention. This account is not meant to be explanatory. And I believe it is uncontroversial, and – in a sense – hopefully everyone’s account of attention. I show why it is nevertheless important to articulate this account. It carves out an important topic of research and helps to coordinate between different fields of study. It also addresses a persistent worry in the science of attention regarding whether we really know what attention is. The upshot of this paper is that we have a unifying and uncontroversial identifying account of attention. With this account in clear sight we can connect the variety of fields that study attention, and indeed we can extend them. Let’s continue trying to understand how attention works and why it matters. We know what it is.
How to attend
This is a read-ahead seminar. The meetings have an hybrid format. We meet in person in GM 652 and digitally on Zoom (Zoom login required).
The meeting link, along with a copy of the paper to be discussed, will be made available in advance via the mailing list.