Is our naïve theory of time dynamical?

Synthese 198 (5):4251-4271 (2021)
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We investigated, experimentally, the contention that the folk view, or naïve theory, of time, amongst the population we investigated is dynamical. We found that amongst that population, ~ 70% have an extant theory of time that is more similar to a dynamical than a non-dynamical theory, and ~ 70% of those who deploy a naïve theory of time 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 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.

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Author Profiles

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

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The metaphysics within physics.Tim Maudlin - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Past, Present and Future.Arthur Prior - 1967 - Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
Scientific Thought.C. D. Broad - 1923 - Routledge and Kegan Paul.

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