Are the Folk Functionalists About Time?

Southern Journal of Philosophy 60 (2):221-248 (2022)
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Abstract
This paper empirically investigates the contention that the folk concept of time is a functional concept: a concept according to which time is whatever plays a certain functional role or roles. This hypothesis could explain why, in previous research, surprisingly large percentages of participants judge that there is time at worlds that contain no one-dimensional substructure of ordered instants. If it seems to participants that even in those worlds the relevant functional role is played, then this could explain why they judge that there is time in those worlds. While our experiment supported the finding that participants are reticent to judge that there is no time, actually, we found no evidence that this is because they deploy a functionalist concept, at least of the kind proposed in recent research. Our findings are, however, consistent with the folk deploying a much more minimal functionalist concept according to which time is just whatever it is—regardless of its nature—that plays the role of grounding our temporal phenomenology.
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2022
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First archival date: 2020-04-14
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