Agentive Explanations of Temporal Passage Experiences and Beliefs

Abstract

Several philosophers have suggested that certain aspects of people’s experience of agency partly explains why people tend to report that it seems to them, in perceptual experience, as though time robustly passes. In turn, it has been suggested that people come to believe that time robustly passes on the basis of its seeming to them in experience that it does. We argue that what require explaining is not just that people report that it seems to them as though time robustly passes, and that they believe that it does, but rather, the substantial variation (a) in people’s reports regarding whether it seems as though time robustly passes, and (b) their beliefs about whether time robustly passes. We empirically investigate the agentive explanation of (a), according to which variation in people’s agentive experiences explains variation in people’s reports regarding whether it seems to them as though time robustly passes. We also empirically investigate the experiential seeming explanation of belief, according to which variation in people’s beliefs about whether time robustly passes is explained by variation in their reports regarding whether it seems in experience as though time robustly passes. We found empirical support for the agentive explanation, but not for the experiential seeming explanation of passage beliefs. We consider the implications of our results for three views about temporal experience and temporal beliefs: dynamism, passage illusionism and deflationism.

Author Profiles

Anthony Bigg
University of Sydney
Andrew James Latham
Aarhus University
Kristie Miller
University of Sydney

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2024-01-03

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