Temporal Dynamism and the Persisting Stable Self

The Philosophical Quarterly (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Empirical evidence suggests that a majority of people believe that time robustly passes, and that many also report that it seems to them, in experience, as though time robustly passes. Non-dynamists deny that time robustly passes, and many contemporary non-dynamists—deflationists—even deny that it seems to us as though time robustly passes. Non-dynamists, then, face the dual challenge of explaining why people have such beliefs and make such reports about their experiences. Several philosophers have suggested the stable-self explanation, according to which what partly explains one or both of the explananda is that people believe themselves to have a stable persisting self which is imagined either as moving through time, or as being stationary, with time moving around it. This paper empirically investigates this explanation. We found, however, no evidential support for the stable-self explanation, leaving the non-dynamist but also, we will argue, the dynamist, with an extant explanatory challenge.

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Andrew James Latham
Aarhus University
Kristie Miller
University of Sydney

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