Explaining away temporal flow – thoughts on Prosser’s ‘Experiencing Time’

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 61 (3):315-327 (2018)
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Abstract

I offer some responses to Prosser’s ‘Experiencing Time’, one of whose goals is to debunk a view of temporal experience somewhat prevalent in the metaphysics literature, which I call ‘Perceptualism’. According to Perceptualism: it is part of the content of perceptual experience that time passes in a metaphysically strong sense: the present has a metaphysically privileged status, and time passes in virtue of changes in which events this ‘objective present’ highlights, and moreover this gives us evidence in favor of strong passage. Prosser argues that perception cannot be sensitive to whether the strong passage obtains, and therefore cannot represent strong passage in a way that gives us evidence of its truth. Although I accept this conclusion, I argue that Prosser’s argument for it is problematic. It threatens to over-generalize to rule out uncontroversial cases of perceptual knowledge, such as our knowledge that we live in a spatial world. Furthermore, a successful argument ruling out perceptual evidence for strong passage would have to give constraints on the theory/observation distinction of a kind not provided by Prosser’s discussion. I also comment on several other parts of the book.

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Geoffrey Lee
University of California, Berkeley

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References found in this work

The skeptic and the dogmatist.James Pryor - 2000 - Noûs 34 (4):517–549.
Intentionalism defended.Alex Byrne - 2001 - Philosophical Review 110 (2):199-240.
Perception and the fall from Eden.David J. Chalmers - 2006 - In Tamar S. Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Perceptual Experience. Oxford University Press. pp. 49--125.
Experiencing Time.Simon Prosser - 2016 - Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press UK.
Phenomenal character.Sydney Shoemaker - 1994 - Noûs 28 (1):21-38.

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