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The Philosophical Significance of Attention



What is the philosophical significance of attention? The present article provides an overview of recent debates surrounding the connections between attention and other topics of philosophical interest. In particular, it discusses the interplay between attention and consciousness, attention and agency, and attention and reference. The article outlines the questions and contemporary positions concerning how attention shapes the phenomenal character of experience, whether it is necessary or sufficient for consciousness, and whether it plays a special role in the best philosophical theories of action or conceptual reference. Various interdependencies between the answers to these questions are indicated, as well as how these answers might depend on the metaphysics of attention. Together with its companion piece (‘The Nature of Attention') this article serves as an introduction to the philosophy of attention.