Non-dynamism and temporal disturbances

Synthese 202 (2) (2023)
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Philosophical accounts denying that temporal passage is an objective feature of reality face an explanatory challenge with respect to why it appears to us as though time passes. Recently, two solutions have surfaced. Cognitive illusionism claims that people experience the passage of time due to their belief that time passes. Cognitive error theory claims that we do not experience the passage of time, but hold the belief that we do, which we have acquired through making an inference from the prior belief that time passes. These approaches suppose that belief and passage experience are explanatorily connected, and they depend on the claims that people who experience the passage of time or at least believe that they do also believe that time passes. To test these claims, we probed the beliefs of populations of individuals with depression and schizotypy, thus conditions that are strongly associated with alterations in temporal phenomenology. Depression was assessed with the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and schizotypy with the short Oxford-Liverpool Inventory of Feelings and Experiences (O-LIFE). While cognitive illusionism and inferentialist cognitive error theory would predict a strong association between BDI and O-LIFE scores and beliefs about time passage, our study found no such association. The experience of passage does not seem to be explanatorily connected to beliefs about the passage of time.

Author Profiles

Sam Baron
University of Melbourne
Andrew James Latham
Aarhus University
Somogy Varga
Aarhus University


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