The fragmentary model of temporal experience and the mirroring constraint

Philosophical Studies 176 (1):21-44 (2019)
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A central debate in the current philosophical literature on temporal experience is over the following question: do temporal experiences themselves have a temporal structure that mirrors their temporal contents? Extensionalists argue that experiences do have a temporal structure that mirrors their temporal contents. Atomists insist that experiences don’t have a temporal structure that mirrors their contents. In this paper, I argue that this debate is misguided. Both atomism and extensionalism, considered as general theories of temporal experience, are false, since temporal experience is not a single undifferentiated phenomena as both theories require. I argue for this conclusion in two steps. First, I show that introspection cannot settle the debate. Second, I argue that the neuroscientific evidence is best read as revealing a host of mechanisms involved in temporal perception - some admitting of an extensionalist interpretation while others admitting only of an atomistic interpretation. As a result, neither side of the debate wins.
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