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Title: Subjects, experiences, and the passage of time : a neo-Parfittian account
Author: Pollock, Henry William
ISNI:       0000 0004 8510 5118
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2020
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The A and B-theorists of time disagree over whether time passes in reality. The B-theorist denies it does, and so, despite its successes, stands at an intuitive disadvantage. The A-theorist on the other hand is able to argue that our experience of time provides evidence of its passage. This ‘argument from experience’ expresses what I take to be the main motivation behind the A-theory. My aim is to provide the B-theorist with a response. The general thrust is that the argument from experience rests upon a mistaken view about the self – namely, Non-Reductionism. If we instead assume a Reductionist view, it should be rejected. Derek Parfit argues that, given Reductionism, it can be an empty question whether persons persists through change. After defining and justifying Reductionism, I argue for a stronger claim: it is always an empty question whether persons – and their experiences – persist. That is to say, what we naturally describe as a single persisting person (or experience) could just as accurately be described as a series of distinct momentary persons (or experiences). This claim is defended, then put to work against the argument from experience. Firstly, I argue it follows from this claim that we could not have veridical experiences of temporal passage. So, even if we do experience time as passing, we couldn’t take this as evidence that time really does pass. Finally, I propose a cognitive error account of temporal experience whereby although we believe we experience time as passing, this belief is false. I argue that the intuition to the contrary should be regarded as a side effect of a faulty, Non-Reductionist conceptual scheme. If we were to assimilate a Reductionist conceptual scheme instead, it would be impossible to conceptualise an experience of passage. In other words, time would not seem to pass.
Supervisor: Le Poidevin, Robin ; Steward, Helen Sponsor: AHRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available