This article argues that every performance of habitdriven action requires attention. I begin by revisiting the conception of habit-driven actions as reducible to automatically performed responses to stimuli. On this conception, habitual actions are a counterexample to Wayne Wu's action-centered theory of attention. Using the biased competition model of attention, and building on findings from affective cognitive neuroscience, I challenge this position. I claim that the performance of a habitual action requires experiential history to be exerting an influence that is (...) best understood as implicit selection-biasing. It follows from this that habit-driven action is compatible with Wu's theory. (shrink)
This chapter contributes to the ongoing debate over how to understand attention. It spells out and defends a novel account according to which attending is the most general type of mental act, that which one performs on some object if one performs any mental act on it at all. On this view, all mental acts are (to a first, rough approximation) species of attending. The view is novel in going against the grain of virtually all extant accounts, which work by (...) identifying the purported unique functional role of attention. It is inspired by Timothy Williamson’s account of knowledge as the most general factive mental state (Williamson, 2001: ch. 1). -/- Beyond the Williamsonian thin explanation of knowledge, the account of attention as the most general mental act is animated by two striking pre-theoretical features of attention, dubbed ubiquity and heterogeneity. The hope of accommodating these twin features seems to drive at least two other extant accounts of attention, very different from the one proposed here, offered by Mole and Wu, respectively. However, as the chapter explains, both Mole’s and Wu’s accounts fall short, leaving room for the novel account defended here, which does adequately capture both features. (shrink)
I seek an explanation for the etiology and the function of mind wandering episodes. My proposal – which I call the cognitive control proposal – is that mind wandering is a form of non-conscious guidance due to cognitive control. When the agent’s current goal is deemed insufficiently rewarding, the cognitive control system initiates a search for a new, more rewarding goal. This search is the process of unintentional mind wandering. After developing the proposal, and relating it to literature on mind (...) wandering and on cognitive control, I discuss explanations the proposal affords, testable predictions the proposal makes, and philosophical implications the proposal has. (shrink)
Does self-control require willpower? The question cuts to the heart of a debate about whether self-control is identical with some psychological process internal to the agents or not. Noticeably absent from these debates is systematic evidence about the folk-psychological category of self-control. Here, we present the results of two behavioral studies (N = 296) that indicate the structure of everyday use of the concept. In Study 1, participants rated the degree to which different strategies to respond to motivational conflict exemplify (...) self-control. Participants distinguished between intra-psychic and externally-scaffolded strategies and judged that the former exemplified self-control more than the latter. In Study 2, participants provided various solutions to manage motivational conflict and rated their proposals on effectiveness. Participants produced substantially more intra-psychic strategies, rated them as more effective, and advised them at a higher rate than externally-scaffolded strategies. Taken together, these results suggest that while people recognize a plurality of strategies as genuine instances of self-control, purely internal exercises of self-control are considered more prototypical than their externally-scaffolded counterparts. This implies a hierarchical structure for the folk psychological category of self-control. The concept encompasses a variety of regulatory strategies and organizes these strategies along a hierarchical continuum, with purely intra-psychic strategies at the center and scaffolded strategies in the periphery. (shrink)
Most elpistologists now agree that hope for a specific outcome involves more than just desire plus the presupposition that the outcome is possible. This paper argues that the additional element of hope is a disposition to focus on the desired outcome in a certain way. I first survey the debate about the nature of hope in the recent literature, offer objections to some important competing accounts, and describe and defend the view that hope involves a kind of focus or attention. (...) I then suggest that this account makes sense of the intuitive thought that there are moral and pragmatic norms on hope that go beyond the norms on desires and modal presuppositions. I conclude by considering some key questions. (shrink)
Drawing on recent work in psychology, I argue that there are not one but several distinct virtues pertaining to willpower or strength of will: (1) the disposition to exercise willpower; (2) a distinctively volitional kind of modesty, or moderation in exposing oneself to volitional strain; and (3) a distinctively volitional kind of confidence, or proper inattention to the possibility of volitional failure. A multiple-virtue conception of willpower, I argue, provides a useful framework for cultivating a good relationship to one’s own (...) volitional limitations; resists an unhealthy emphasis on ‘powering through’ volitional obstacles; and avoids controversial empirical assumptions without giving up on making progress in ethical thought about willpower. I answer objections that the latter two virtues are incompatible, and that they add little of value to hope or belief in success. I then argue that combining these virtues requires a kind of flexible attention which, while difficult, is both psychologically possible and desirable. (shrink)
Habits figure in action‐explanations because of their distinctive force. But what is the force of habit, and how does it motivate us? In this paper, I argue that the force of habit is the feeling of familiarity one has with the familiar course of action, where this feeling reveals a distinctive reason for acting in the usual way. I do this by considering and rejecting a popular account of habit's force in terms of habit's apparent automaticity, by arguing that one (...) can do something out of habit and from deliberation, before going on to defend The Familiarity View. (shrink)
This article presents theories of attention that attempt to derive their answer to the question of what attention is from their answers to the question of what it is for some activity to be done attentively. Such theories provide a distinctive account of the difficulties that are faced by the attempt to locate processes in the brain by which the phenomena of attention can be explained. Their account does not share the pessimism of theories suggesting that the concept of attention (...) is defective. Instead it reconstrues the explanatory relationship between attention and the processes that constitute it, in a way that is illustrated here by considering the relationship between attention and the processes that are identified by the biased competition theory. After considering some of the ways in which an adverbialist approach might be developed, the article concludes by suggesting some possible solutions to a problem concerning distraction, by which prominent adverbialist theories of attention have been dogged. (shrink)
The nineteenth century saw the development of reductive views of attention. The German philosopher and psychologist Carl Stumpf (1848-1936) proposed an original reductive view according to which attention is nothing but interest and interest itself is a positive feeling. Stumpf’s view was developed by Francis Bradley (1846-1924), George Frederick Stout (1860-1944), and Josiah Royce (1855-1916), but has been overlooked in the recent literature. In this paper, I will expound Stumpf’s view of attention, trace it back to its Aristotelian roots and (...) defend the version offered by Stout and Royce. In this version a new kind of feeling, feelings of interest, and value, intellectual value, take centre stage. (shrink)
Movements of the Mind is about what it is to be an agent. Focusing on mental agency, it integrates multiple approaches, from philosophical analysis of the metaphysics of agency to the activity of neurons in the brain. Philosophical and empirical work are combined to generate concrete explanations of key features of the mind. The book should be relevant and accessible to philosophers and scientists interested in mind and agency.
What is salience? This collection addresses this neglected question by considering the role of salience in a wide variety of areas. All 13 chapters are specially commissioned, and written by an international team of contributors.
Mental control refers to the ability we have to control our own minds. Its primary expression—attention—has become a popular topic for philosophers in the past few decades, generating the need for a primer on the concept. It is related to self-control, which typically refers to the maintenance of preferred behavior in the face of temptation. While a distinct concept, criticisms of self-control can also be applied to mental control, such as that it implies the existence of an unscientific homunculus-like agent (...) or is not a natural kind. Yet, as this Element suggests, a scientifically-grounded account of mental control remains possible. The manuscript is organized into five main sections, which cover 1) the concept of mental control, 2) the relationship between mental control and attention, 3) the phenomena of meditation and mindwandering, 4) attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and 5) emergence-based accounts of mental control, including an original account by the author. (shrink)
What precisely does a distraction threaten? An agent who spends an inordinate amount of time attending to her smartphone – what precisely is she lacking? I argue that whereas agency of attention is the agent’s non-automatic decision-making on what she currently pays attention to, autonomy of attention is the agent, through her second-order desires, effectively interfering with her non-automatic decision-making on what she currently pays attention to. Freedom of attention is the agent’s possibility to hold or switch her focus of (...) attention without fixating on any specific focus against her will or without distraction from chosen foci. This conceptual work provides resources to track manipulations that diminish a person’s freedom of attention. (shrink)
The idea that our epistemic practices can be wrongful has been the core observation driving the growing literature on epistemic injustice, doxastic wronging, and moral encroachment. But, one element of our epistemic practice has been starkly absent from this discussion of epistemic morality: attention. The goal of this article is to show that attention is a worthwhile focus for epistemology, especially for the field of epistemic morality. After presenting a new dilemma for proponents of doxastic wronging, I show how focusing (...) on attention not only allows us to defuse that dilemma, but also helps to substantiate accounts of what goes wrong in cases of doxastic wronging. (shrink)
This paper argues that intelligence can be approximated by the ability to produce accurate predictions. It is further argued that general intelligence can be approximated by context dependent predictive abilities combined with the ability to use working memory to abstract away contextual information. The flexibility associated with general intelligence can be understood as the ability to use selective attention to focus on specific aspects of sensory impressions to identify patterns, which can then be used to predict events in novel situations (...) and environments. The argumentation synthesizes Godfrey-Smith’s environmental complexity theory, adding the notion of niche broadness as well as changes concerning the view of cognition and control, and Hohwy’s predictive mind theory, making explicit the significance of accuracy as a composite of trueness and precision where the nervous system acts as a distributed controller motivating actions that keep the body in homeostasis. (shrink)
The use and acquisition of knowledge appears to be influenced by what humans pay attention to. Thus, looking at attention will tell us something about the mechanisms involved in knowledge (usage). According to the present review, attention reflects selectivity in information processing and it is not necessarily also reflected in a user’s consciousness, as it is rooted in skill memory or other implicit procedural memory forms–that is, attention is rooted in the necessity of human control of mental operations and actions. (...) The main assumption is that what is true of processing in general is also true of knowledge: Its usage cannot be understood, unless we have the means to study all mechanisms involved, including knowledge hidden from direct introspection and knowledge that participants are not willing to share with interrogators. Reviewing work done in this context, I argue that experimental research on selectivity and bias in human information processing is a promising road to learn about the principles governing knowledge (usage) and to reflect upon them. (shrink)
Mind-wandering seems to be paradigmatically unintentional. However, experimental findings have yielded the paradoxical result that mind-wandering can also be intentional. In this paper, we first present the paradox of intentional mind-wandering and then explain intentional mind-wandering as the intentional omission to control one’s own thoughts. Finally, we present the surrealist method for artistic production to illustrate how intentional omission of control over thoughts can be deployed towards creative endeavors.
Skilled action typically requires that individuals guide their activities toward some goal. In skilled action, individuals do so excellently. We do not understand well what this capacity to guide consists in. In this paper I provide a case study of how individuals shift visual attention. Their capacity to guide visual attention toward some goal (partly) consists in an empirically discovered sub-system – the executive system. I argue that we can explain how individuals guide by appealing to the operation of this (...) sub-system. Understanding skill and skilled action thus requires appreciating the role of the executive system. (shrink)
In paradigm exercises of agency, individuals guide their activities toward some goal. A central challenge for action theory is to explain how individuals guide. This challenge is an instance of the more general problem of how to accommodate individuals and their actions in the natural world, as explained by natural science. Two dominant traditions–primitivism and the causal theory–fail to address the challenge in a satisfying way. Causal theorists appeal to causation by an intention, through a feedback mechanism, in explaining guidance. (...) Primitivists postulate primitive agential capacities in their explanations. The latter neglect to explain how primitive capacities integrate with findings from natural science. The former do not explain why some feedback mechanism’s activity amounts to the agent’s guidance. In this paper I argue that both traditions should acknowledge a capacity to guide, as actually constituted by the executive system. I argue that appeals to this empirically discovered psychological system explain how individuals guide in a way that integrates with explanations from cognitive science. Individuals’ capacity to guide is embedded in the natural world through the activity of its constituent (mechanistic) components. (shrink)
Peak human performance—whether of Olympic athletes, Nobel prize winners, or you cooking the best dish you’ve ever made—depends on skill. Skill is at the heart of what it means to excel. Yet, the fixity of skilled behavior can sometimes make it seem a lower-level activity, more akin to the movements of an invertebrate or a machine. Peak performance in elite athletes is often described, for example, as “automatic” by those athletes: “The most frequent response from participants when describing the execution (...) of a peak performance was the automatic execution of performance”. While the automaticity of skilled behavior is widely acknowledged, some worry that too much automaticity in skill would challenge its ability to exhibit human excellence. And so two camps have developed: those who focus on the automaticity of skilled behavior, the “habitualists,” and those who focus on the higher-level cognition behind peak performance, the “intellectualists.” We take a different tack. We argue that skilled behavior weaves together automaticity and higher-level cognition, which we call “pluralism.” That is, we argue that automaticity and higher-level cognition are both normal features of skilled behavior that benefit skilled behavior. This view is hinted at in other quotes about automaticity in skill—while expert gamers describe themselves as “playing with” automaticity, expert musicians are said to balance automaticity with creativity through performance cues: “Performance cues allow the musician to attend to some aspects of the performance while allowing others to be executed automatically”. We describe in this paper three ways that higher-level cognition and automaticity are woven together. The first two, level pluralism and synchronic pluralism, are described in other papers, albeit under different cover. We take our contribution to be both distinguishing the three forms and contributing the third, diachronic pluralism. In fact, we find that diachronic pluralism presents the strongest case against habitualism and intellectualism, especially when considered through the example of strategic automaticity. In each case of pluralism, we use research on the presence or absence of attention to explore the presence or absence of higher-level cognition in skilled behavior. (shrink)
Perhaps the central question in action theory is this: what ingredient of bodily action is missing in mere behavior? But what is an analogous question for mental action? I ask this: what ingredient of active, goal-directed thought is missing in mind-wandering? My answer: attentional guidance. Attention is guided when you would feel pulled back from distractions. In contrast, mind-wandering drifts between topics unchecked. My unique starting point motivates new accounts of four central topics about mental action. First, its causal basis. (...) Mind-wandering is a case study that allows us to tease apart two causes of mental action––guidance and motivation. Second, its experiential character. Goals are rarely the objects of awareness; rather, goals are “phenomenological frames” that carve experience into felt distractions and relevant information. Third, its scope. Intentional mind-wandering is a limit case of action where one actively cultivates passivity. Fourth, my theory offers a novel response to mental action skeptics like Strawson. (shrink)
Attention has been theorized as a system comprising three networks that can be estimated reliably by the attention network test ; the three networks are defined as alerting, orienting, and conflict control. The present study aims to identify the attention networks that are crucial for elite shooting and archery athletes and to examine whether mindfulness training can improve elite athletes' attention networks. We compared the performances in ANT between 62 elite athletes from the Chinese national team of shooting and archery (...) and 49 athletes from a provincial team in China. The results indicate three well-functioned attention networks in both groups, but elite athletes in the national team responded faster overall than athletes in the provincial team. The 62 elite athletes in the national team then received mindfulness training with varied periods ranging from 5 to 8 weeks, after which the ANT was re-administered. After mindfulness training, the elite athletes improved in orienting and conflict control networks compared with their pre-training performances. These results suggest that elite shooting and archery athletes in the national team are more efficient in all three attention networks, which means that they are able to reach the alerting state faster, make better use of environmental information, and suppress interference from distractors more efficiently. Moreover, the orienting and conflict control networks of the elite shooting and archery athletes can be improved by mindfulness training. We conclude that mindfulness practice should be considered as a useful addition to daily training for shooting and archery athletes. (shrink)
Recently, there has been much interest in epistemic roles of attention, especially in whether visual attention is necessary for warranting (basic) visual belief. Arguably it is not. But attention nevertheless has important roles to play in our warrant from vision. I argue that we must appeal to a competence for shifting visual attention in explaining transsaccadic vision and our epistemic warrant from it. So even if it is not necessary for visual warrant or vision, visual attention plays a central role (...) in both. (shrink)
A growing amount of media is paid for by its consumers through their very consumption of it. Typically, this new media is web-based and paid for by advertising. It includes the services offered by Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube. We offer an ethical assessment of the attention economy, the market where attention is exchanged for new media. We argue that the assessment has ethical implications for how the attention economy should be regulated. To conduct the assessment, we employ two heuristics (...) for evaluating markets. One is the “harm” criterion, which relates to whether the market tends to engender extremely harmful outcomes for individuals or society as a whole. The other is the “agency” criterion, which relates not to the outcomes of the market, but rather, to whether it somehow reflects or has its source in weakened agency. We argue that the attention economy animates concerns with respect to both criteria and that new media should be subject to the same sort of regulation as other harmful, addictive products. (shrink)
Attention is essential to the life of the mind, a central topic in cognitive science, neuroscience, and psychology. Traditional debates in philosophy stand to benefit from greater understanding of the phenomenon, whether on the nature of the self, the foundation of knowledge, the natural basis of consciousness, or the origins of action and responsibility. This book is at the crossroads of philosophy of mind and cognitive science, offering a new theoretical stance on the concept of attention and how it intersects (...) with other functions of the mind, such as perception, consciousness, and action. It presents attention as directed by a subject, essential for perception, but not consciousness or action. By taking seriously the existence of a subject it stands against current trends in philosophy and cognitive science. This book offers an account of the subject and its role in attention that will both help motivate a subject-centered account and avoid some of the common criticisms regarding its existence. It engages with work by many philosophers, psychologists, and neuroscientists, including Block, Campbell, Dickie, Husserl, James, Koch, Mack and Rock, Merleau-Ponty, Treisman, and Wu. (shrink)
In classical Chinese philosophy, the best kind of life is a life lived in line with the Dao (the “Way”). A core feature of this kind of life is attaining the ideal of wu-wei. In early Daoist writings, wu-wei denotes an ideal way of acting. However, since wu-wei is normally translated as “no-action” these ancient texts give us a picture of the best kind of life that may appear paradoxical to many philosophers. In this paper, I suggest a way to (...) make sense of this classical ideal. I argue that by applying a Merleau-Pontyian framework of action we can arrive at a non-paradoxical reading of wu-wei. On this reading, wu-wei is essentially manifested in a specific way we are aware of what we are doing. (shrink)
From the conception of Baddeley’s visuospatial sketchpad, visual working memory and visual attention have been closely linked concepts. An attractive model has advocated unity of the two cognitive functions, with attention serving the active maintenance of sensory representations. However, empirical evidence from various paradigms and dependent measures has now firmly established an at least partial dissociation between visual attention and visual working memory maintenance e thus leaving unclear what the relationship between the two concepts is. Moreover, a focus on sensory (...) storage has treated visual working memory as a reflection of the past, with attention as a limiting resource. This view ignores what storage is for: immediate or future action. We argue that rather than serving sensory storage, attention emerges from coupling relevant sensory and action representations within working memory. Importantly, this coupling is bidirectional: First, through recurrent feedback mechanisms, action coupling results in the enhancement of the appropriate sensory memory representation. Under this view, unattended memories are currently not coupled to an action plan, but are not necessarily lost and remain available for future tasks when necessary. Second, through the very same feedback projections, attention serves as the credit assignment mechanism for the action’s outcome. When the action is successful, the associated representations are being reinforced, leading to more robust consolidation and more rapid retrieval in the future e thus explaining performance benefits for attended memories without assuming that attention serves as the maintenance mechanism. By firmly grounding VWM in the action system, the new framework integrates a range of behavioural and neurophysiological findings and avoids circularity in explaining the role of attention in working memory. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to provide an account of how hunger motivates us to seek food and eat. It seems that the way that it feels to be hungry must play some role in it fulfilling this function. We propose that hunger is best viewed as a complex state involving both affective and somatic constituents, as well as, crucially, changes in the way in which the hungry agent’s attention is deployed. We argue that in order to capture the (...) distinctive way in which hunger motivates we need to articulate the relations amongst such components. The resulting account explains how hunger as an aversive affective reaction to a state of need motivates us specifically to eat and not to just to rid ourselves of the unpleasant sensations associated to it. We suggest, however, that there is more than this to the overall affective experience of the hungry agent, because hunger ordinarily facilitates the elicitation of other, positive affective reactions such as interest and appetite, and recruits them to further its function. (shrink)
There has recently been much interest in the role of attention in controlling action. The role has been mischaracterized as an element in necessary and sufficient conditions on agential control. In this paper I attempt a new characterization of the role. I argue that we need to understand attentional control in order to fully understand agential control. To fully understand agential control we must understand paradigm exercises of agential control. Three important accounts of agential control—intentional, reflective, and goal-represented control—do not (...) fully explain such exercises. I argue that understanding them requires understanding how deployments of visual attention implement flexible occurrent control, or a capacity to flexibly adjust the degree of control that individuals exercise over their actions. While such deployments of attention are neither necessary nor sufficient for exercising agential control, they constitute an attentional skill for controlling action, understanding which is central to fully understanding agential control. We can appreciate its centrality if we appreciate that this attentional skill for controlling action is plausibly crucial to acting non-negligently. (shrink)
The objective of this paper is to articulate a distinction between habit and bodily skill as different ways of acting without deliberation. I start by elaborating on a distinction between habit and skill as different kinds of dispositions. Then I argue that this distinction has direct implications for the varieties of automaticity exhibited in habitual and skilful bodily acts. The argument suggests that paying close attention to the metaphysics of agency can help to articulate more precisely questions regarding the varieties (...) of automaticity exhibited in overt action. (shrink)
Impairment of self-control is often said to be a defining feature of addiction. Yet many addicts display what appears to be a considerable amount of control over their drug-oriented actions. Not only are their actions clearly intentional and frequently carried out in a conscious and deliberate manner, there is evidence that many addicts are responsive to a wide range of ordinary incentives and counter-incentives. Moreover, addicts have a wide variety of reasons for using drugs, reasons which often seem to go (...) a long way towards explaining their drug-oriented behavior. Many use drugs, for example, to cope with stressful or traumatic experiences. In this article I argue that some standard philosophical explanations of addicts’ impairment of self-control are inadequate, and propose an alternative. (shrink)
When performing a skilled action—whether something impressive like a double somersault or something mundane like reaching for a glass of water—you exercise control over your bodily movements. Specifically, you guide their course. In what does that control consist? In this dissertation, I argue that it consists in attending to what you are doing. More specifically, in attending, agents harness their perceptual and perceptuomotor states directly and practically in service of their goals and, in doing so, settle the fine-grained manner in (...) which their bodies will move—details an intention alone leaves unsettled. This requires, among other things, that we reject views on which agents’ control is identical with their practical rationality. When all goes well, agents attentionally prioritize what is motivationally relevant to them to the exclusion of what would otherwise distract them from achieving their goals. However, sometimes agents attend distractedly—i.e., without prioritizing. As the aim of attention is to avoid distraction, this entails the possibility of defective attention. Defective attention, in turn, casts light on scenarios in which agents lose control over what they are doing, as when a skilled practitioner ‘chokes under pressure’. A complaint sometimes levelled against accounts, like mine, that claim to reduce agents’ control of their behaviour to that of causally efficacious mental states or events is that these accounts invariably deprive agents themselves of their rightful role in the generation of behaviour. This is the “Disappearing Agent Problem” for “reductive” or “event-causal” theories of action. I argue that, correctly understood, extant reductive theories do face a genuine Disappearing Agent Problem. However, it is a problem we solve by recognizing the role that conscious attention plays in making an action the agent’s own. Accordingly, I develop and defend an attentional account of action ownership. On this view, allocating conscious attention in service of your goals is sufficient for a kind of conscious perspective (“motivational perspective”), which, when active in controlling your behaviour, constitutes the behaviour as your own doing. As I explain, such perspective also contributes to explaining the subjective structure of your perceptual awareness of the world around you. (shrink)
: This paper aims to situate the roles of attention and habit in contemporary approaches to embodied cognition with particular regard to the conceptualisation of affordances. While Chemero has argued that affordances have a relational character that rules out dispositions, Rietveld and Kiverstein have suggested that engaging with affordances amounts to exercising skills. By critically reconsidering the distinction between dispositions and abilities proposed by Chemero, as well as the standard theory of habit that underpins accounts of skilful coping, I propose (...) to disambiguate habit from skill and to reassess the phenomenology of dispositions. Dispositions are motivational factors that depend on two elements: sensitivity to context clues, which is regulated by habit and attention, and the positionality of the subject, which is inseparable from context-awareness. Drawing on Husserl’s and Merleau-Ponty’s insights, I argue that both and can accommodate a dispositional view of affordances. Keywords: Habit; Attention; Affordances; Dispositions; Phenomenology; Embodied Cognition Situare attenzione e abitudine nel panorama delle affordance Riassunto: L’articolo mira a situare i ruoli svolti dall’attenzione e dall’abitudine negli approcci contemporanei all’ embodied cognition, con particolare attenzione alla concettualizzazione delle affordance. Se, un da un lato, Chemero ha sostenuto che l’ affordance ha un carattere relazionale, che esclude le disposizioni, Rietveld e Kiverstein, dall’altro lato, mantengono che il coinvolgimento nell’ affordance corrisponde all’esercizio di abilità pratiche. Nel riconsiderare criticamente la distinzione fra disposizioni e abilità avanzata da Chemero, così come la concezione standard dell’abitudine che è alla base delle teorie di skilful coping, propongo di disambiguare l’abitudine dalle abilità e di rivalutare la fenomenologia delle disposizioni. Queste ultime sono elementi motivazionali che dipendono da due fattori: sensibilità verso il contesto, che è governata dall’abitudine e dall’attenzione, e la posizionalità del soggetto, la quale è inseparabile dalla consapevolezza del contesto. Basandosi su Husserl e Merleau-Ponty, l’articolo difende l’ipotesi che sia che possono soddisfare una concezione disposizionale dell’ affordance. Parole chiave: Abitudine; Attenzione; Disposizioni; Fenomenologia; Cognizione incarnata. (shrink)
While attention is widely recognised as central to perception, the term is often used to mean very different things. Prominent theories of attention — notably the premotor theory — relate it to planned or executed eye movements. This contrasts with the notion of attention as a gain control process that weights the information carried by different sensory channels. We draw upon recent advances in theoretical neurobiology to argue for a distinction between attentional gain mechanisms and salience attribution. The former depends (...) upon estimating the precision of sensory data, while the latter is a consequence of the need to actively engage with the sensorium. Having established this distinction, we consider the intimate relationship between attention and salience. (shrink)
Jennings and Nanay argue against my claim that action entails attention by providing putative counterexamples to the claim that action entails a Many–Many Problem. This reply demonstrates that they have misunderstood the central notion of a pure reflex on which my argument depends. A simplified form of the argument from pure reflex to the Many–Many Problem as a necessary feature of agency is given, and putative counterexamples of action without attention are addressed. Attention is present in every action. In passing, (...) the reply discusses how we should assess intuitive claims about attention and mental processing, with emphasis on learning and the automatization of attention in its development as a skill. (shrink)
Daniel Kahneman was not the first to suggest that attention and effort are closely associated, but his 1973 book Attention and Effort, which claimed that attention can be identified with effort, cemented the association as a research paradigm in the cognitive sciences. Since then, the paradigm has rarely been questioned and appears to have set the research agenda so that it is self-reinforcing. In this article, we retrace Kahneman's argument to understand its strengths and weaknesses. The central notion of effort (...) is not clearly defined in the book, so we proceed by constructing the most secure inferences we can from Kahneman's argument regarding effort: it is cognitive, objective, metabolic expenditure, and it is attention. Continuing, we find from Kahneman's argument that effort-attention must be a special case of sympathetic dominance of the autonomic nervous system that is also an increase in metabolic activity in the brain that has crossed a threshold of magnitude. We then weigh this conception of effort against evidence in Kahneman's book and against more recent evidence, finding that it does not warrant the conclusion that effort can be equated with attention. In support of an alternative perspective, we briefly review diverse studies of behavior, physiology and neuroscience on attention and effort, including meditation and studies of the LC-NE system, where we find evidence for the following: 1) Attention seems to be associated not with the utilization of metabolic resources per se but with the readying of metabolic resources in the form of adaptive gain modulation. This occurs under sympathetic dominance and can be experienced as effortful. 2) Attention can also occur under parasympathetic dominance, in which case it is likely experienced as effortless. (shrink)
One of the most influential recent accounts of attention is Wayne Wu’s. According to Wu, attention is selection-for-action. I argue that this proposal faces a dilemma: either it denies clear cases of attention capture, or it acknowledges these cases but classifies many inattentive episodes as attentive.
For decades AI researchers have built agents that are capable of carrying out tasks that require human-level or human-like intelligence. During this time, questions of how these programs compared in kind to humans have surfaced and led to beneficial interdisciplinary discussions, but conceptual progress has been slower than technological progress. Within the past decade, the term agency has taken on new import as intelligent agents have become a noticeable part of our everyday lives. Research on autonomous vehicles and personal assistants (...) has expanded into private industry with new and increasingly capable products surfacing as a matter of routine. This wider use of AI technologies has raised questions about legal and moral agency at the highest levels of government (National Science and Technology Council 2016) and drawn the interest of other academic disciplines and the general public. Within this context, the notion of an intelligent agent in AI is too coarse and in need of refinement. We suggest that the space of AI agents can be subdivided into classes, where each class is defined by an associated degree of control. (shrink)
From our everyday commuting to the gold medalist’s world-class performance, skillful actions are characterized by fine-grained, online agentive control. What is the proper explanation of such control? There are two traditional candidates: intellectualism explains skillful agentive control by reference to the agent’s propositional mental states; anti-intellectualism holds that propositional mental states or reflective processes are unnecessary since skillful action is fully accounted for by automatic coping processes. I examine the evidence for three psychological phenomena recently held to support anti-intellectualism and (...) argue that it supports neither traditional candidate, but an intermediate attention-control account, according to which the top-down, intention-directed control of attention is a necessary component of skillful action. Only this account recognizes both the role of automatic control in skilled action and the need for higher-order cognition to thread automatic processes together into a unified, skillful performance. This applies to bodily skillful action in general, from the world-class performance of experts to mundane, habitual action. The attention-control account stresses that, for intentions to play their role as top-down modulators of attention, agents must sustain the intention’s activation; hence, the need for reflecting throughout performance. (shrink)
Self-control, the capacity to resist temptations and pursue longer-term goals over immediate gratifications, is crucial in determining the overall shape of our lives, and thereby in our ability to shape our identities. As it turns out, this capacity is intimately linked with our ability to control the direction of our attention. This raises the worry that perhaps social media are making us more easily distracted people, and therefore less able to exercise self-control. Is this so? And is it necessarily a (...) bad thing? This paper analyzes the nature of attention, its vices and virtues, and what currently available evidence has to say about the effects of social media on attention and self-control. The pattern that seems to be emerging is that, although there is an association between higher use of social media and lower attentional control, we do not yet know whether it is social media use that makes people more distracted, or whether those who use social media the most do so because they are more easily distracted. Either way, the rise of the ‘Web 2.0’ does raise questions about whether the virtues of attention will change in the future, and whether this will bring with it a transformation in the way we shape our selves. (shrink)
Contemporary cognitive science clearly tells us that attention is modulated for speech and action. While these forms of goal-directed attention are very well researched in psychology, they have not been sufficiently studied by epistemologists. In this book, Abrol Fairweather and Carlos Montemayor develop and defend a theory of epistemic achievements that requires the manifestation of cognitive agency. They examine empirical work on the psychology of attention and assertion, and use it to ground a normative theory of epistemic achievements and virtues. (...) The resulting study is the first sustained naturalized virtue epistemology, and will be of interest to readers in epistemology, cognitive science, and beyond. (shrink)
Jonardon Ganeri presents a radically reoriented account of mind, to which attention is the key. It is attention, not self, that explains the experiential and normative situatedness of humans in the world. Ganeri draws together three disciplines: analytic philosophy and phenomenology, cognitive science and psychology, and Buddhist thought.
In the paper I argue that medieval philosophers proposed several notions of the senses’ activity in perception. I illustrate the point using the example of two Franciscan thinkers – Peter Olivi (ca. 1248–1298) and Peter Auriol (ca. 1280–1322). Olivi’s notion of active perception assumes that every perceptual act demands a prior focusing of the mind’s attention. Furthermore, Olivi is partially inspired by the extramissionist theories of vision and reinterprets the notion of a visual ray postulated by them as a useful (...) model for explaining attention and attentional shifts. In Auriol’s view, perception is active because it participates in producing a perceptual content. e senses not only receive information from the environment, they also actively process it and, in Auriol’s words, put the external object into apparent being. e peculiar feature of Auriol’s account is his obvious tendency to conceive perceptual content as both dependent on our perceptual activity and external to the senses. Finally, I consider the two theories in the context of mirror perception – while Olivi focused on the ability of mirrors to switch attention’s direction, Auriol investigated the metaphysical nature of mirror images. (shrink)
It has recently become popular to suggest that cognition can be explained as a process of Bayesian prediction error minimization. Some advocates of this view propose that attention should be understood as the optimization of expected precisions in the prediction-error signal (Clark, 2013, 2016; Feldman & Friston, 2010; Hohwy, 2012, 2013). This proposal successfully accounts for several attention-related phenomena. We claim that it cannot account for all of them, since there are certain forms of voluntary attention that it cannot accommodate. (...) We therefore suggest that, although the theory of Bayesian prediction error minimization introduces some powerful tools for the explanation of mental phenomena, its advocates have been wrong to claim that Bayesian prediction error minimization is ‘all the brain ever does’. (shrink)
Based on recent findings, we propose a framework for a relationship among attention, effort and optimal performance. Optimal performance often refers to an effortless and automatic, flow-like state of performance. Mindfulness regulates the focus of attention to optimal focus on the core component of the action, avoiding too much attention that could be detrimental for elite performance. Balanced attention is a trained state that can optimize any particular attentional activity on the dual-process spectrum.
What is attention? How does attention shape consciousness? In an approach that engages with foundational topics in the philosophy of mind, the theory of action, psychology, and the neurosciences this book provides a unified and comprehensive answer to both questions. Sebastian Watzl shows that attention is a central structural feature of the mind. The first half of the book provides an account of the nature of attention. Attention is prioritizing, it consists in regulating priority structures. Attention is not another element (...) of the mind, but constituted by structures that organize, integrate, and coordinate the parts of our mind. Attention thus integrates the perceptual and intellectual, the cognitive and motivational, and the epistemic and practical. The second half of the book concerns the relationship between attention and consciousness. Watzl argues that attentional structure shapes consciousness into what is central and what is peripheral. The center-periphery structure of consciousness cannot be reduced to the structure of how the world appears to the subject. What it is like for us thus goes beyond the way the world appears to us. On this basis, a new view of consciousness is offered. In each conscious experience we actively take a stance on the world we appear to encounter. It is in this sense that our conscious experience is our subjective perspective. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that visual attention is cognitively penetrated by intention. I present a detailed account of attention and its neural basis, drawing on a recent computational model of neural modulation during attention: divisive normalization. I argue that intention shifts computations during divisive normalization. The epistemic consequences of attentional bias are discussed.
To date, diagnosing Attention Defi cit Hyperactivity Disorder remains indeed one of the most controversial issues in contemporary psychiatry and behavioural sciences. Most of the conceptual problems regarding the validity of this diagnostic category arise from the heterogeneity of syndromal pictures and the high rate of comorbidity observed in subjects diagnosed with ADHD at all stages of the longitudinal course of the disorder. In this regard, DSM 5 increased complexity by allowing a diagnosis of comorbidity between ADHD and autism spectrum (...) disorders while these two diagnoses were mutually exclusive in DSM-IV-TR. (shrink)