Capacity for simulation and mitigation drives hedonic and non-hedonic time biases

Philosophical Psychology 35 (2):226-252 (2022)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Until recently, philosophers debating the rationality of time-biases have supposed that people exhibit a first-person hedonic bias toward the future, but that their non-hedonic and third-person preferences are time-neutral. Recent empirical work, however, suggests that our preferences are more nuanced. First, there is evidence that our third-person preferences exhibit time-neutrality only when the individual with respect to whom we have preferences—the preference target—is a random stranger about whom we know nothing; given access to some information about the preference target, third-person preferences mirror first-person preferences. As a result, the simulation hypothesis has been proposed, according to which third-person preferences will mirror first-person preferences when we can simulate the mental states of the preference target. Second, there is evidence that we prefer negative hedonic events to be in our past (we are first-person negatively hedonically future-biased) only when we view future events as fixed and in no way under our control. By contrast, when we perceive it to be within our power to mitigate the badness of future events, we are first-person negatively hedonically past-biased. This is the mitigation hypothesis. We distinguish two versions of the mitigation hypothesis, the squirrelling version and the heuristic version. We ran a study which tested the simulation hypothesis, and which aimed to determine whether the squirrelling or the heuristic version of the mitigation hypothesis enjoys more empirical support. We found support for the heuristic version of the hypothesis, but no support for the squirrelling version.

Similar books and articles

Why are people so darn past biased?Preston Greene, Andrew James Latham, Kristie Miller & James Norton - forthcoming - In Christoph Hoerl, Teresa McCormack & Alison Sutton Fernandes (eds.), Temporal Asymmetries in Philosophy and Psychology. OUP.
Future-Bias and Practical Reason.Tom Dougherty - 2015 - Philosophers' Imprint 15.
Agency, Experience, and Future Bias.Antti Kauppinen - 2018 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 7 (4):237-245.
Measuring the hedonimeter.Brian Skyrms & Louis Narens - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (12):3199-3210.
Future Bias and Presentism.Sayid Bnefsi - 2020 - In Per Hasle, Peter Øhrstrøm & David Jakobsen (eds.), The Metaphysics of Time: Themes from Prior. Aalborg: pp. 281-297.


Added to PP

224 (#61,320)

6 months
69 (#23,478)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Andrew James Latham
Aarhus University
Kristie Miller
University of Sydney
James Norton
University of Tasmania

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind?David Premack & G. Woodruff - 1978 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 4 (4):515-629.
Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind?David Premack & Guy Woodruff - 1978 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 1 (4):515-526.
Cause and Norm.Christopher Hitchcock & Joshua Knobe - 2009 - Journal of Philosophy 106 (11):587-612.

View all 29 references / Add more references