Robust passage phenomenology probably does not explain future-bias

Synthese 200 (1):1-23 (2022)
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People are ‘biased toward the future’: all else being equal, we typically prefer to have positive experiences in the future, and negative experiences in the past. Several explanations have been suggested for this pattern of preferences. Adjudicating among these explanations can, among other things, shed light on the rationality of future-bias: For instance, if our preferences are explained by unjustified beliefs or an illusory phenomenology, we might conclude that they are irrational. This paper investigates one hypothesis, according to which future-bias is explained by our having a phenomenology that we describe, or conceive of, as being as of time robustly passing. We empirically tested this hypothesis and found no evidence in its favour. Our results present a puzzle, however, when compared with the results of an earlier study. We conclude that although robust passage phenomenology on its own probably does not explain future-bias, having this phenomenology and taking it to be veridical may contribute to future-bias.

Author Profiles

Kristie Miller
University of Sydney
Christian Tarsney
University of Texas at Austin
Hannah Tierney
University of California, Davis
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