Does Mole’s Argument That Cognitive Processes Fail to Suffice for Attention Fail?

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Is attention a cognitive process? I reconstruct and critically assess an argument first proposed by Christopher Mole that it cannot be so. Mole’s argument is influential because it creates theoretical space for a unifying analysis of attention at the subject level (though it does not entail it). Prominent philosophers working on attention such as Wayne Wu and Philipp Koralus explicitly endorse it, while Sebastian Watzl endorses a related version, this despite their differing theoretical commitments. I show that Mole’s argument is invalid, amend it to secure its validity, but argue that it still fails. I consider the extent to which the failure of Mole’s argument spreads to the versions offered by Wu, Koralus and Watlz. Mole’s argument fails because it equivocates between the set of conditions that suffice for constituting attention and the subset of those conditions which are salient, but insufficient, for constituting it. Reflection on this distinction has consequences for the individuation not just of attentional processes but all cognitive processes.
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First archival date: 2018-04-24
Latest version: 2 (2018-07-09)
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