An Empirical Investigation of Purported Passage Phenomenology

Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
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It has widely been assumed, by philosophers, that most people unambiguously have a phenomenology as of time passing, and that this is a datum that philosophical theories about both the nature of time, and experience, must accommodate. Moreover, it has been assumed that the greater the extent to which people have said phenomenology, the more likely they are to endorse a dynamical theory of time. This paper is the first to empirically test these assumptions. We found that, on average, participants only weakly agreed that it seems as though time passes, suggesting that most people do not unambiguously have a phenomenology as of time passing. Moreover, we did not find the predicted relationship between reported phenomenology and endorsed theory of time. One experiment found no relationship between reported phenomenology and whether participants endorse a dynamical theory (growing block) or non-dynamical theory (eternalism). The other found the opposite of the result we predicted: those participants who reported stronger phenomenology as of time passing were more likely to endorse a non-dynamical theory (eternalism) than a dynamical theory (presentism). We conclude that this is suggestive evidence in favour of veridical non-dynamism—the view that our phenomenology is veridical, and that it does not unambiguously represent that time passes.
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