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Discuss the relationship between attention and consciousness.


Below is a list of some of the ideas and concepts covered since the last exam. You do

not need to be able to discuss all of them. However, for you to demonstrate

comprehension of the material that we have been covering, you will need to be familiar

with at least most of what appears below.

Putting it another way: I do not expect you to be able to explain everything mentioned

below, just enough to put together a good essay in response to a generally-stated essay

question (similar to the ones given on the last exam).

You will have 75 minutes to take the exam.


For this units 7 and 8, you should be familiar with the following:

Why using inattentional and change blindness in the scientific study of

consciousness is not as straightforward as we might like it to be:

• how these experiments might be taken to show something about:

๏ the relationship between attention and consciousness

๏ the richness of our visual experience

• why we might think they don’t show this

๏ (based on the distinction between phenomenal- and access-consciousness)

Why using the case of hemispatial neglect, and some psychophysical evidence

(those experiments involving visual illusions) in the search for the neural correlates of

consciousness (NCC) is not as straightforward as we might like it to be

• what these experiments might be taken to show, and why

• why we might think they don’t show this

๏ (based on the distinction between phenomenal- and access-consciousness)

Report skepticism

• how report skepticism arises, in two steps, when trying to establish that we can

trust subjects’ reports (more specifically, those reports that are intended to indicate

activity in some brain area is not conscious)

• how this is problematic in the search for the NCC

• how report skepticism is related to external world skepticism, and inductive



• contrastive analysis

• dual-vision systems theory

• phenomenal- and access-consciousness



• scientific realism and anti-realism

• underdetermination

• empirical adequacy

van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism

• his view on construing theories “literally”

๏ how this differs from the positivists’ view

• what he means when he says that we should merely “accept,” rather than believe

scientific theories

• what he means by “observable”

Underdetermination argument

• the strong underdetermination arguments

๏ based on the limited imagination and generation problems

• superempirical virtues

๏ how these might help the realist

• the anti-realist’s response

๏ that superempirical virtues give only pragmatic, and not epistemic reasons

Argument against there being an observable-theoretical (observable-unobservable)


• Maxwell’s continuum of observability arguments

• van Fraassen’s responses

No-miracles argument

• the argument

• van Fraassen’s Darwinian response

• the problem with his response, as pointed out by James Brown

Pessimistic meta-induction

• the argument

๏ examples of theories that have been discarded

• the realist response

๏ what is meant by mature, predictive theories

๏ how this is supposed to help the realist

• anti-realist response:

๏ example of theory that was mature and predictive but false

๏ how this is supposed to defeat the realist response


Quotes from the text and readings should be used in a very limited fashion, if at all. All

uses of quotes must be accompanied by a reference to the source and the page

number. No quoting from the slides or lectures is permitted.

A good rule of thumb: Use no more than one or two quotes in each essay, and make the

quotes of a limited length (one sentence or less). Keep in mind that quoting material is

not a good way to demonstrate an understanding of it.

Finally, I have sometimes in the past received exams that read basically like a

paraphrase of what appeared on the slides in the lectures. This is not an acceptable

way to answer an exam question, and could even constitute plagiarism in certain cases.

Avoid this.


Given that the exam is open-book, and you have 75 minutes to write it, I will expect high

quality essays. A high-quality essay is one that demonstrates an understanding of the

issues, the positions of philosophers, and how these issues and positions relate to one

another. A high-quality essay is also well-organized. Consider outlining before you begin

writing. Come up with and use examples whenever possible, as this is often a good way

to illustrate your understanding of the material. Take care to stay within the rules of

spelling and grammar. State thoughts clearly and simply. You are welcome to include

your views in your essay if they are clearly expressed and well-argued, but this is not

necessary for doing well on this exam.

There will be some other sources from this class upload that the writer can look for


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