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Sebastian Watzl
University of Oslo
  1.  20
    Structuring Mind. The Nature of Attention and How It Shapes Consciousness.Sebastian Watzl - 2017 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    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 (...)
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  2. The Ethics of Attention: An Argument and a Framework.Sebastian Watzl - forthcoming - In Sophie Alice Archer (ed.), Salience: A Philosophical Inquiry. Routledge.
    This paper argues for the normative significance of attention. Attention plays an important role when describing an individual’s mind and agency, and in explaining many central facts about that individual. In addition, many in the public want answers and guidance with regard to normative questions about attention. Given that attention is both descriptively central and the public cares about normative guidance with regard to it, attention should be central also in normative philosophy. We need an ethics of attention: a field (...)
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  3. Attention as Structuring of the Stream of Consciousness.Sebastian Watzl - 2011 - In Christopher Mole, Declan Smithies & Wayne Wu (eds.), Attention: Philosophical and Psychological Essays. Oxford University Press. pp. 145.
    This paper defends and develops the structuring account of conscious attention: attention is the conscious mental process of structuring one’s stream of consciousness so that some parts of it are more central than others. In the first part of the paper, I motivate the structuring account. Drawing on a variety of resources I argue that the phenomenology of attention cannot be fully captured in terms of how the world appears to the subject, as well as against an atomistic conception of (...)
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  4. The Nature of Attention.Sebastian Watzl - 2011 - Philosophy Compass 6 (11):842-853.
    What is attention? Attention is often seen as a subject matter for the hard sciences of cognitive and brain processes, and is understood in terms of sub-personal mechanisms and processes. Correspondingly, there still is a stark contrast between the central role attention plays for the empirical investigation of the mind in psychology and the neurosciences, and its relative neglect in philosophy. Yet, over the past years, several philosophers have challenged the standard conception. A number of interesting philosophical questions concerning the (...)
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  5. The Philosophical Significance of Attention.Sebastian Watzl - 2011 - Philosophy Compass 6 (10):722-733.
    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 (...)
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  6. The Significance of Attention.Sebastian Watzl - 2010 - Dissertation, Columbia University
    This dissertation investigates the nature, the phenomenal character and the philosophical significance of attention. According to its central thesis, attention is the ongoing mental activity of structuring the stream of consciousness or phenomenal field. The dissertation connects the scientific study of attention in psychology and the neurosciences with central discussions in the philosophy of mind. Once we get clear on the nature and the phenomenal character of attention, we can make progress toward understanding foundational issues concerning the nature and the (...)
     
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  7. Silencing the Experience of Change.Sebastian Watzl - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 165 (3):1009-1032.
    Perceptual illusions have often served as an important tool in the study of perceptual experience. In this paper I argue that a recently discovered set of visual illusions sheds new light on the nature of time consciousness. I suggest the study of these silencing illusions as a tool kit for any philosopher interested in the experience of time and show how to better understand time consciousness by combining detailed empirical investigations with a detailed philosophical analysis. In addition, and more specifically, (...)
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  8. Can Representationism Explain How Attention Affects Appearances?Sebastian Watzl - 2019 - In Adam Pautz & Daniel Stoljar (eds.), Blockheads! Essays on Ned Block’s Philosophy of Mind and Consciousness. Boston, USA: The MIT Press. pp. 481-607.
    Recent psychological research shows that attention affects appearances. An “attended item looks bigger, faster, earlier, more saturated, stripier.” (Block 2010, p. 41). What is the significance of these findings? Ned Block has argued that they undermine representationism, roughly the view that the phenomenal character of perception is determined by its representational content. My first goal in this paper is to show that Block’s argument has the structure of a Problem of Arbitrary Phenomenal Variation and that it improves on other instances (...)
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  9.  50
    Attentional Organization and the Unity of Consciousness.Sebastian Watzl - 2014 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 21 (7-8):56-87.
    Could the organization of consciousness be the key to understanding its unity? This paper considers how the attentional organization of consciousness into centre and periphery bears on the phenomenal unity of consciousness. Two ideas are discussed: according to the first, the attentional organization of consciousness shows that phenomenal holism is true. I argue that the argument from attentional organization to phenomenal holism remains inconclusive. According to the second idea, attentional organization provides a principle of unity for conscious experience, i.e. it (...)
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  10. Perplexities of Consciousness, by Eric Schwitzgebel. [REVIEW]Sebastian Watzl & Wayne Wu - 2012 - Mind 121 (482):524-529.
  11. The Perception/Cognition Distinction.Anders Nes, Kristoffer Sundberg & Sebastian Watzl - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 1:1-31.
    The difference between perception and cognition seems introspectively obvious in many cases. Perceiving and thinking have also been assigned quite different roles, in epistemology, in theories of reference and of mental content, in philosophy of psychology, and elsewhere. Yet what is the nature of the distinction? In what way, or ways, do perception and cognition differ? The paper reviews recent work on these questions. Four main respects in which perception and cognition have been held to differ are discussed. First, their (...)
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  12.  70
    Perceptual Guidance.Sebastian Watzl - 2014 - Ratio 27 (4):414-438.
    Proponents of an intentionalist theory of perceptual experience have taken for granted that perceptual experience is an informing form of intentionality. Hence they often speak of the way an experience represents the environment to be, or what there is. In this respect perceptual experience is thus assumed to resemble a speech act like assertion or a mental state like belief. There is another important form of intentionality though that concerns not what there is, but what to do. I call this (...)
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  13.  5
    Attention, Not Self, by Jonardon Ganeri. [REVIEW]Sebastian Watzl - 2018 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
    In this review of Ganeri's book I focus specifically on the metaphysical issues about attention raised by it. On the one hand, there is a distinction between essence and constitutive explanation. On the other hand, there is a puzzle how a phenomenon like attention could (as it appears to be on Ganeri's position) be both explanatorily central and also disunified ('not a single psychological kind', as Ganeri puts it). I discuss several possible solutions to this puzzle.
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  14. The Ethics of Attention: A Framework.Sebastian Watzl - manuscript
    Discussions regarding which norms, if any, govern our practices of forming, maintaining and relinquishing beliefs have come to be collected under the label “The ethics of belief”. Included in the ethics of belief are debates about how those normative issues relate to the nature of belief, whether belief formation is, for example, ever voluntary. The present talk concerns an analogous set of questions regarding our practices of attention. “The ethics of attention” thus concerns the discussion of which norms, if any, (...)
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  15. Self-Control: A Mental Action in No Need of Special Motivational Powers.Sebastian Watzl - forthcoming - In M. Brent (ed.), Mental Action and the Conscious Mind.
    It has been argued that the explanation of self-control requires positing special motivational powers. Some think that we need will-power as an irreducible mental faculty; others that we need to think of the active self as a dedicated and depletable pool of psychic energy or – in today more respectable terminology – mental resources; finally, there is the idea that self-control requires postulating a deep division between reason and passion – a deliberative and an emotional motivational system. This essay argues (...)
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  16.  62
    Culture or Biology? If This Sounds Interesting, You Might Be Confused.Sebastian Watzl - 2019 - In Jaan Valsinger (ed.), Social Philosophy of Science for the Social Sciences. Cham: Springer. pp. 45-71.
    Culture or Biology? The question can seem deep and important. Yet, I argue in this chapter, if you are enthralled by questions about our biological differences, then you are probably confused. My goal is to diagnose the confusion. In debates about the role of biology in the social world it is easy to ask the wrong questions, and it is easy to misinterpret the scientific research. We are intuitively attracted to what is called psychological essentialism, and therefore interpret what is (...)
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  17. Is Attention a Non-Propositional Attitude?Sebastian Watzl - 2018 - In Alex Grzankowski & Michelle Montague (eds.), Non-Propositional Intentionality. Oxford University Press. pp. 272-302.
    I argue first that attention is a (maybe the) paradigmatic case of an object-directed, non-propositional intentional mental episode. In addition attention cannot be reduced to any other (propositional or non-propositional) mental episodes. Yet, second, attention is not a non-propositional mental attitude. It might appear puzzling how one could hold both of these claims. I show how to combine them, and how that combination shows how propositionality and non-propositionality can co-exist in a mental life. The crucial move is one away from (...)
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  18. Review of Christopher Mole 'Attention is Cognitive Unison: An Essay in Philosophical Psychology'. [REVIEW]Sebastian Watzl - 2011 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
    A relatively detailed review (~ 4000 words) of Christopher Mole's (2010) book "Attention is Cognitive Unison". I suggest that Mole makes a good case against many types of reductivist accounts of attention, using the right kind of methodology. Yet, I argue that his adverbialist theory is not the best articulation of the crucial anti-reductivist insight. The distinction between adverbial and process-first phenomena he draws remains unclear, anti-reductivist process theories can escapte his arguments, and finally I provide an argument for why (...)
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  19.  68
    Consciousness and No Self?Sebastian Watzl - 2018 - Ratio 31 (4):363-375.
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  20. Symposium on P. Koralus, "The Erotetic Theory of Attention".Philipp Koralus, Felipe De Brigard, Christopher Mole, Catherine Stinson & Sebastian Watzl - 2014 - Mind and Language Symposia at the Brains Blog.
  21.  18
    Knowing, Being, Doing.Herman Cappelen, Ingvild Torsen & Sebastian Watzl - 2021 - Oslo: Gyldendal.
    What does it mean to possess knowledge about something? What kinds of things exist and can be known? How should we live? What matters and what has value? In this book, we seek to answer these questions by examining contributions from the history of philosophy, science and ethics. The book has 20 chapters divided into three parts. Part 1, Knowing, asks questions about knowledge. Part 2, Being, starts by asking about what is real. Part 3, Doing, is devoted to ethics. (...)
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  22.  11
    Vite, Være, Gjøre.Herman Cappelen, Ingvild Torsen & Sebastian Watzl - 2021 - Oslo: Gyldendal.
    Hva vil det si å ha kunnskap om noe? Hva slags ting finnes i verden, og hva går det an å vite noe om? Hvordan bør vi leve? Hva er verdifullt? I denne boka søkes svar på disse spørsmålene gjennom eksempler fra filosofi- og vitenskapshistorien og fra etikk. Boka har 20 kapitler fordelt på tre deler. Del 1 – vite – stiller spørsmål om kunnskap. Del 2 – være – tar utgangspunkt i hva som er virkelig. Del 3 – gjøre (...)
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