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Wayne WuAttention

Routledge, 2014

by Carrie Figdor on April 15, 2015

Wayne Wu

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The mental phenomenon of attention is often thought of metaphorically as a kind of spotlight: we focus our attention on a particular item or task, our attention is divided or diffused when we try to text and drive at the same time, and our attention is captured when we suddenly hear our name pop out from the conversational hubbub of a noisy party. But what is attention? How seriously should we take this or other metaphors as giving us insight into the nature of attention? In Attention (Routledge, 2014) Wayne Wu argues for the view that attention is selection for action and is distinct from consciousness. This controversial position pits him against more common views that attention is in some sense essentially connected to consciousness – for example, that it is a kind of gatekeeper for consciousness. Wu, an Associate Professor of philosophy at Carnegie Mellon University, draws on empirical literature from psychology and neuroscience to develop his view while acknowledging how difficult it is to interpret results so as to support one theory or another.


George SherEquality for Inegalitarians

April 1, 2015

There’s a longstanding debate in political philosophy regarding the fundamental point or aim of justice. According to one prominent view, the point of justice is to neutralize the influence of luck over individuals’ shares of basic social goods. This view is known as luck egalitarianism. It holds, roughly, that inequality is consistent with justice only […]

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Marya SchechtmanStaying Alive: Personal Identity, Practical Concerns, and the Unity of a Life

March 15, 2015

What is it to be the same person over time? The 17th-century British philosopher John Locke approached this question from a forensic standpoint: persons are identified over time with an appropriately related series of psychological states, in particular a chain of memories, and our interest in identifying persons in this way stems from our interest […]

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Seana ShiffrinSpeech Matters: On Lying, Morality, and the Law

March 1, 2015

It is generally accepted that lying is morally prohibited. But theorists divide over the nature of lying’s wrongness, and thus there is disagreement over when the prohibition might be outweighed by competing moral norms.  There is also widespread agreement over the idea that promises made under conditions of coercion or duress lack the moral force […]

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Evan ThompsonWaking, Dreaming, Being: Self and Consciousness in Neuroscience, Meditation, and Philosophy

February 15, 2015

The quest for an explanation of consciousness is currently dominated by scientific efforts to find the neural correlates of conscious states, on the assumption that these states are dependent on the brain. A very different way of exploring consciousness is undertaken within various Indian religious traditions, in which subtle states of consciousness and transitions between […]

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Carol GouldInteractive Democracy: The Social Roots of Global Justice

February 1, 2015

Contemporary advances in technology have in many ways made the world smaller.  It is now possible for vast numbers of geographically disparate people to interact, communicate, coordinate, and plan.  These advances potentially bring considerable benefits to democracy, such as greater participation, more inclusion, easier dissemination of information, and so on.  Yet they also raise unique […]

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Erik C. BanksThe Realistic Empiricism of Mach, James, and Russell: Neutral Monism Reconceived

January 15, 2015

The Austrian physicist Ernst Mach, the American psychologist William James, and the British philosopher Bertrand Russell shared an interest in explaining the mind in naturalistic terms – unified with the rest of nature, not metaphysically distinct as Descartes argued. In The Realistic Empiricism of Mach, James, and Russell: Neutral Monism Reconceived (Cambridge University Press, 2014), […]

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Terence CuneoSpeech and Morality: On the Metaethical Implications of Speaking

January 1, 2015

It is widely accepted that in uttering sentences we sometimes perform distinctive kinds of acts. We declare, assert, challenge, question, corroborate by means of speech; sometimes we also use speech to perform acts such as promising, commanding, judging, pronouncing, and christening. Yet it seems that in order to perform an act of, say, promising, one […]

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Joelle ProustThe Philosophy of Metacognition: Mental Agency and Self-Awareness

December 15, 2014

Metacognition is cognition about cognition – what we do when we assess our cognitive states, such as wondering whether we’ve remembered a phone number correctly. In The Philosophy of Metacognition: Mental Agency and Self-Awareness (Oxford University Press, 2014) Joelle Proust considers the nature of metacognition from a naturalistic perspective, drawing on recent psychological research as […]

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Claudio Lopez-GuerraDemocracy and Disenfranchisement: The Morality of Electoral Exclusions

December 1, 2014

Modern democracy is build around a collection of moral and political commitments.  Among the most familiar and central of these concern voting.  It is commonly held that legitimate government requires a system of universal suffrage. Yet, democrats tend to hold that certain exclusions are permissible.  For example, it is commonly thought that children and the […]

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