Salience Perspectives

Dissertation, Cambridge University (2019)

Authors
Ella Whiteley
London School of Economics
Abstract
In the philosophy of language and epistemology, debates often centre on what content a person is communicating, or representing in their mind. How that content is organised, along dimensions of salience, has received relatively little attention. I argue that salience matters. Mere change of salience patterns, without change of content, can have dramatic implications, both epistemic and moral. Imagine two newspaper articles that offer the same information about a subject, but differ in terms of what they headline. These articles can be said to adopt different linguistic salience perspectives. Making different things salient in language is a way of making different things salient in an audience’s mind: it is a way of encouraging the audience to adopt a particular cognitive salience perspective. Building on Elisabeth Camp’s work on perspectives, and Sebastian Watzl’s work on attention, I suggest that one has a certain cognitive salience perspective in virtue of better noticing, remembering, and finding cognitively accessible certain contents over others. Drawing on psychological research into cognitive biases and framing effects, I argue that that simply making some content salient in the mind, perhaps through first making it salient in language, can be sufficient to activate substantive cultural beliefs or ideologies associated with that content. Where those beliefs and ideologies have epistemic and moral problems, we have grounds for criticising the salience perspective that causally produced them. Besides this instrumental harm, I also suggest that certain salience perspectives can themselves constitute harm. I draw on feminist work on objectification to argue that making the wrong thing salient about a person can constitute a way of dehumanising them. A great many factors, from physical and psychological violence, to false beliefs and credibility deficits, have already been identified as potentially harming an individual or group. What is distinctive about this argument, then, is the idea that, sometimes, mere patterns of salience can be damaging in and of themselves.
Keywords Salience  Perspectives  Attention  Language  Ethics  Bias
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 65,784
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

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Salience Principles for Democracy.Susanna Siegel - forthcoming - In Sophie Archer (ed.), Salience. Taylor and Francis.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Harmful Salience Perspectives.Ella Whiteley - forthcoming - In Sophie Archer (ed.), Salience: A Philosophical Inquiry. pp. Chapter 11.
Frontal Eye Field: A Cortical Salience Map.Kirk G. Thompson & Narcisse P. Bichot - 1999 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (4):699-700.
Salience Principles for Democracy.Susanna Siegel - forthcoming - In Sophie Archer (ed.), Salience. Taylor and Francis.
When Learning Meets Salience.David Bodoff - 2013 - Theory and Decision 74 (2):241-266.
Anti-Intellectualism, Egocentrism and Bank Case Intuitions.Alexander Dinges - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (11):2841-2857.
A Map Leading to Less Waste: Stakeholder Salience and Plastic Waste.David Saiia & Vananh Le - 2009 - Proceedings of the International Association for Business and Society 20:302-313.
The Banality of Vice.Georgi Gardiner - forthcoming - In Alfano Mark, Colin Klein & Jeroen De Ridder (eds.), Social Virtue Epistemology.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2021-11-21

Total views
0

Recent downloads (6 months)
0

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

My notes