Experimental Research into Temporal Phenomenology

Latham, A. J. Norton, J. and Miller, K. (forthcoming). “An Empirical Investigation of Purported Passage Phenomenology”. The Journal of Philosophy.

It has widely been assumed, by philosophers, that most people unambiguously have a phenomenology as of time passing, and that this is a datum that philosophical theories must accommodate. Moreover, it has been assumed that the greater the extent to which people have said phenomenology, the more likely they are to endorse a dynamical theory of time. This paper is the first to empirically test these assumptions. Surprisingly, our results do not support either assumption. One experiment instead found the reverse correlation: people were more likely to report having passage phenomenology if they endorsed a non-dynamical theory of time. Given that people do not have an unambiguous phenomenology as of time passing, we conclude that this is suggestive evidence in favour of veridical non-dynamism—the view that our phenomenology is veridical, and that it does not unambiguously represent that time passes. Instead, our phenomenology veridically has some quite different content.