Are the Folk Functionalists About Time?

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This paper empirically investigates the contention that the folk concept of time is a functional concept: a concept according to which time is (and perhaps necessarily so) whatever actually plays certain functional roles. This hypothesis could explain why, in previous research, surprisingly large percentages of participants judge that there is time worlds that contain no one-dimensional substructure of ordered instants. If it seems to participants that even in those worlds certain functional roles are 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 we are tracking with our temporal phenomenology.
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