An Empirical Investigation of the Role of Direction in our Concept of Time

Acta Analytica 36 (1):25-47 (2021)
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Abstract

This paper empirically investigates one aspect of the folk concept of time by testing how the presence or absence of directedness impacts judgements about whether there is time in a world. Experiment 1 found that dynamists, showed significantly higher levels of agreement that there is time in dynamically directed worlds than in non-dynamical non-directed worlds. Comparing our results to those we describe in Latham et al., we report that while ~ 70% of dynamists say there is time in B-theory worlds, only ~ 45% say there is time in C-theory worlds. Thus, while the presence of directedness makes dynamists more inclined to say there is time in a world, a substantial subpopulation of dynamists judge that there is time in non-directed worlds. By contrast, a majority of non-dynamists judged that there was time in both growing block worlds and C-theory worlds, with no significant differences between the means. Experiment 2 found that when participants are only presented with non-dynamical worlds—namely, a directed world and a non-directed world—they report significantly higher levels of agreement that there is time in B-theory worlds. However, the majority of participants still judge that there is time in C-theory worlds. We conclude that while the presence of directedness bolsters judgements that there is time, most people do not judge it to be necessary for time.

Author Profiles

Andrew James Latham
Aarhus University
Kristie Miller
University of Sydney
James Norton
University of Iceland

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