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Attention & Inscrutability: A Commentary on John Campbell, "Reference and Consciousness" for the Pacific APA Meeting, Pasadena, California, 2004

Austen Clark
Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition
Vol. 127, No. 2, Selected Papers from the American Philosophical Association, Pacific Division, 2004 Meeting (Jan., 2006), pp. 167-193
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4321687
Page Count: 27
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Attention & Inscrutability: A Commentary on John Campbell, "Reference and Consciousness" for the Pacific APA Meeting, Pasadena, California, 2004
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Abstract

We assemble here in this time and place to discuss the thesis that conscious attention can provide knowledge of reference of perceptual demonstratives. I shall focus my commentary on what this claim means, and on the main argument for it found in the first five chapters of "Reference and Consciousness". The middle term of that argument is an account of what attention does: what its job or function is. There is much that is admirable in this account, and I am confident that it will be the foundation, the launching-pad, for much future work on the subject. But in the end I will argue that Campbell's picture makes the mechanisms of attention too smart: smarter than they are, smarter than they could be. If we come to a more realistic appraisal of the skills and capacities of our sub-personal minions, the "knowledge of reference" which they yield will have to be taken down a notch or two.

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