Joint attention and perceptual experience

Synthese 198 (9):8809-8822 (2021)
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Joint attention customarily refers to the coordinated focus of attention between two or more individuals on a common object or event, where it is mutually “open” to all attenders that they are so engaged. We identify two broad approaches to analyse joint attention, one in terms of cognitive notions like common knowledge and common awareness, and one according to which joint attention is fundamentally a primitive phenomenon of sensory experience. John Campbell’s relational theory is a prominent representative of the latter approach, and the main focus of this paper. We argue that Campbell’s theory is problematic for a variety of reasons, through which runs a common thread: most of the problems that the theory is faced with arise from the relational view of perception that he endorses, and, more generally, they suggest that perceptual experience is not sufficient for an analysis of joint attention.
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