Cognitive science has recently made some startling discoveries about temporal experience, and these discoveries have been drafted into philosophical service. We survey recent appeals to cognitive science in the philosophical debate over whether time objectively passes. Since this research is currently in its infancy, we identify some directions for future research.
Much current debate in the metaphysics of time is between A-theorists and B-theorists. Central to this debate is the assumption that time exists and that the task of metaphysics is to catalogue time’s features. Relatively little consideration has been given to an error theory about time. Since there is very little extant work on temporal error theory the goal of this paper is simply to lay the groundwork to allow future discussion of the relative merits of such a view. The (...) paper thus develops a conceptual framework from within which to evaluate claims about the actual existence, or not, of temporality as that notion appears in folk discourses about time, and from there to examine claims about the counterfactual existence, or not, of temporality so conceived. We subsequently apply this framework to three extant positions drawn from physics and metaphysics that deny the existence of time. We show that only one of these positions is a folk temporal error theory; that is, a view that denies the existence of time as that notion is operative in our everyday thought and talk. (shrink)
The anglophone philosophy profession has a well-known problem with gender equity. A sig-nificant aspect of the problem is the fact that there are simply so many more male philoso-phers than female philosophers among students and faculty alike. The problem is at its stark-est at the faculty level, where only 22% - 24% of philosophers are female in the United States (Van Camp 2014), the United Kingdom (Beebee & Saul 2011) and Australia (Goddard 2008).<1> While this is a result of the (...) percentage of women declining at each point through-out the standard career trajectory, recent large-scale studies in the United States (Paxton et al. 2012) and Australia (Goddard et al. 2008) have identified a key drop-off point as the transi-tion between taking introductory classes and majoring in philosophy. So why do dispropor-tionately few female students choose to major in philosophy? (shrink)
Why is there female under-representation among philosophy majors? We survey the hypotheses that have been proposed so far, grouping similar hypotheses together. We then propose a chronological taxonomy that distinguishes hypotheses according to the stage in undergraduates’ careers at which the hypotheses predict an increase in female under-representation. We then survey the empirical evidence for and against various hypotheses. We end by suggesting future avenues for research.
Why does female under- representation emerge during undergraduate education? At the University of Sydney, we surveyed students before and after their first philosophy course. We failed to find any evidence that this course disproportionately discouraged female students from continuing in philosophy relative to male students. Instead, we found evidence of an interaction effect between gender and existing attitudes about philosophy coming into tertiary education that appears at least partially responsible for this poor retention. At the first lecture, disproportionately few female (...) students intended to major. Further, at the first lecture, female students were less interested in philosophy, were less self-confident about philosophy, and were less able to imagine themselves as philosophers. Similarly, female students predicted they would feel more uncomfortable in philosophy classes than male students did. Further study with a control is warranted to determine whether this interaction effect is peculiar to philosophy, or whether it is indicative of a more general gendered trend amongst first year undergraduate students. (shrink)
There is an old meta-philosophical worry: very roughly, metaphysical theories have no observational consequences and so the study of metaphysics has no value. The worry has been around in some form since the rise of logical positivism in the early twentieth century but has seen a bit of a renaissance recently. In this paper, I provide an apology for metaphysics in the face of this kind of concern. The core of the argument is this: pure mathematics detaches from science in (...) much the same manner as metaphysics and yet it is valuable nonetheless. The source of value enjoyed by pure mathematics extends to metaphysics as well. Accordingly, if one denies that metaphysics has value, then one is forced to deny that pure mathematics has value. The argument places an added burden on the sceptic of metaphysics. If one truly believes that metaphysics is worthless (as some philosophers do), then one must give up on pure mathematics as well. (shrink)
Many philosophers have thought that our folk, or pre-reflective, view of persistence is one on which objects endure. This assumption not only plays a role in disputes about the nature of persistence itself, but is also put to use in several other areas of metaphysics, including debates about the nature of change and temporal passage. In this paper, we empirically test three broad claims. First, that most people (i.e. most non-philosophers) believe that, and it seems to them as though, objects (...) persist by enduring rather than perduring. Second, that most people have a view of change on which enduring but not perduring objects count as changing. Third, that one reason why the folk represent time as dynamical is because it seems to them, and they believe that, they endure through time. We found no evidence to support these claims. While there are certainly plenty of ‘folk’ endurantists in the population we tested, there are also plenty of ‘folk’ perdurantists. We did not find robust evidence that a majority of people believed that, or it seemed to them as though, objects endure rather than perdure. We conclude that many arguments in favour of endurantism that appeal to folk beliefs about, or experiences of, persisting objects and change rest on views about those beliefs and experiences that are empirically unsupported. There is no evidence to suggest that endurantism is the folk friendly view of persistence, and so we should stop treating it as such without argument. (shrink)
This paper addresses the extent to which both Julian Barbour‘s Machian formulation of general relativity and his interpretation of canonical quantum gravity can be called timeless. We differentiate two types of timelessness in Barbour‘s (1994a, 1994b and 1999c). We argue that Barbour‘s metaphysical contention that ours is a timeless world is crucially lacking an account of the essential features of time—an account of what features our world would need to have if it were to count as being one in which (...) there is time. We attempt to provide such an account through considerations of both the representation of time in physical theory and in orthodox metaphysical analyses. We subsequently argue that Barbour‘s claim of timelessness is dubious with respect to his Machian formulation of general relativity but warranted with respect to his interpretation of canonical quantum gravity. We conclude by discussing the extent to which we should be concerned by the implications of Barbour‘s view. (shrink)
Mathematics appears to play an explanatory role in science. This, in turn, is thought to pave a way toward mathematical Platonism. A central challenge for mathematical Platonists, however, is to provide an account of how mathematical explanations work. I propose a property-based account: physical systems possess mathematical properties, which either guarantee the presence of other mathematical properties and, by extension, the physical states that possess them; or rule out other mathematical properties, and their associated physical states. I explain why Platonists (...) should accept that physical systems have mathematical properties, and why a property based account is better than existing accounts of mathematical explanation. I close by considering whether nominalists can accept the view I propose here. I argue that they cannot. (shrink)
This book is a collection of introspective essays bringing together the experience of the biographical process of biographers. It illustrates which type of psychoanalytic response is likely to catalyze a process that will increase the biographer's self-awareness as it pertains to his creativity.
It has seemed, to many, that there is an important connection between the ways in which some theoretical posits explain our observations, and our reasons for being ontologically committed to those posits. One way to spell out this connection is in terms of what has become known as the explanatory criterion of ontological commitment. This is, roughly, the view that we ought to posit only those entities that are indispensable to our best explanations. Our primary aim is to argue that (...) the moral nonnaturalist places herself in an invidious position if she simply accepts that the nonnatural moral facts that she posits are not explanatory. Instead, we offer the nonnaturalist an alternative strategy for dealing with moral explanations. The strategy is to retain the explanatory criterion of ontological commitment and maintain that moral properties are, in fact, explanatory. The explanations they provide are not causal explanations; instead, moral properties make a non-causal difference to the physical facts. (shrink)
The idea that time does not exist is, for many, unthinkable: time must exist. Almost every experience we have tells us so. There has been plenty of debate around what time is like, but not whether it exists. The goal of this book is to make the absence of time thinkable. Time might not exist. Beginning with an empirically flavoured examination of the 'folk' concept of time, the book explores the implications this has for our understanding of agency, and the (...) extent to which our best physics and best metaphysics are compatible with a timeless conception of reality. (shrink)