The Causal Life of Attention

Christopher Mole

in Attention Is Cognitive Unison

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780195384529
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199872817 | DOI:

Series: Philosophy of Mind Series

The Causal Life of Attention

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This chapter shows that the cognitive unison theory of attention is able to account for the causal role that we typically think of attention as playing. The first half of the chapter shows how that causal role can be characterized using counterfactual conditionals. This requires a defense of the idea that counterfactual conditionals can be used to analyze the causal relevance of properties. To this end it is shown that standard objections to the use of counterfactuals in the analysis of the causal relation itself cannot be used as objections against the use of counterfactuals in analyzing the causal relevance of properties. With this counterfactual-based analysis of attention’s causal role in hand, the cognitive unison theory is able to account for attention’s causal role, despite the fact that unison is, in a certain sense, an extrinsic, privative, and aggregate phenomenon.

Keywords: causally relevant properties; counterfactual conditionals; extrinsic causation; privative causation; causal exclusion

Chapter.  14287 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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