The Metaphysics of the ‘Specious’ Present
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The doctrine of the specious present that we perceive or, at least, seem to perceive a period of time is often taken to be an obvious claim about perception. Yet, it also seems just as commonly rejected as being incoherent. In this paper, following a distinction between three conceptions of the specious present, it is argued that the incoherence is due to hidden metaphysical assumptions about perception and time. For those who do not hold such assumptions, so long as we are clear about what the doctrine is really saying, we can make perfect sense of the specious present doctrine.
Thanks to Robin Le Poidevin, Maria Kon and two anonymous reviewers for extensive and thoughtful comments on earlier drafts. This paper was completed during a Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship from the Irish Research Council of the Humanities and the Social Sciences (IRCHSS), held at University College Cork.
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