Presenter: Dr Matt Farr (University of Queensland)

Does time pass? So-called ‘B-theories’ or ‘tenseless theories’ of time have long fought a negative campaign against pro-passage ‘A-theories’ or ‘tensed theories’ regarding this question. Temporal passage has been widely attacked as being logically incoherent (McTaggart; Smart) and inconsistent with the worldview of physics (Eddington; Putnam; Rietdijk), and consequently the debate over passage has been lopsided: A-theorists are required to account for how their pro-passage theory survives such criticisms; B-theorists in general have taken the perceived failure of the A-theory to make their position the default. This is unfortunate, since it has left to the side exactly how B-theories are to account for our phenomenology of time, particularly the sense in which time appears to us as passing. A common view that has been held on both sides of the debate is that the B theory holds our temporal phenomenology to an illusion. My paper focuses on this first-person aspect of temporal experience — what I call 'temporal qualia' — and considers a range of explanatory strategies, arguing that this issue closely parallels key aspects of the mind-body problem. In particular, I argue against the claim that our temporal experience is illusory, instead defending a reductionist account of temporal qualia according to which our experience of temporal passage just is our experience of change, motion, succession, and other such features of the world well studied by psychophysics.


Forgan Smith Building (1),
St Lucia campus