Is Our Naïve Theory of Time Dynamical?

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Abstract
We investigated, experimentally, the contention that the folk view, or naïve theory, of time, amongst the population we investigated (i.e. U.S. residents) is dynamical. We found that amongst that population, (i) ~70% have an extant theory of time (the theory they deploy after some reflection, whether it be naïve or sophisticated) that is more similar to a dynamical than a non-dynamical theory, and (ii) ~70% of those who deploy a naïve theory of time (the theory that have on the basis of naïve interactions with the world and not on the basis of scientific investigation or knowledge) deploy a naïve theory that is more similar to a dynamical than a non-dynamical theory. Interestingly, while we found stable results across our two experiments regarding the percentage of participants that have a dynamical or non-dynamical extant theory of time, we did not find such stability regarding which particular dynamical or non-dynamical theory of time they take to be most similar to our world. This suggests that there might be two extant theories in the population—a broadly dynamical one and a broadly non-dynamical one—but that those theories are sufficiently incomplete that participants do not stably choose the same dynamical (or non-dynamical) theory as being most similar to our world. This suggests that while appeals to the ordinary view of time may do some work in the context of adjudicating disputes between dynamists and non-dynamists, they likely cannot do any such work adjudicating disputes between particular brands of dynamism (or non-dynamism).
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Archival date: 2019-05-08
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