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Sebastian Watzl
University of Oslo
  1. 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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  2. 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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  3. 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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  4. Perplexities of Consciousness, by Eric Schwitzgebel. [REVIEW]Sebastian Watzl & Wayne Wu - 2012 - Mind 121 (482):524-529.
    In this review of Eric Schwitzgebel's "Perplexities of Consciousness", we discuss the book's arguments in light of the role of attention in introspection.
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  5. The Perception/Cognition Distinction.Anders Nes, Kristoffer Sundberg & Sebastian Watzl - forthcoming - 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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  6. 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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  7. 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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  8.  75
    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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