Agency and the Successive Structure of Time-Consciousness

Erkenntnis 88 (5):2013-2034 (2023)
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I argue for constraining the nomological possibility space of temporal experiences and endorsing the Succession Requirement for agents. The Succession Requirement holds that the basic structure of temporal experience must be successive for agentive subjects, at least in worlds that are law-like in the same way as ours. I aim to establish the Succession Requirement by showing non-successively experiencing agents are not possible for three main reasons, namely that they (1) fail to stand in the right sort of causal relationship to the outcomes of their actions, (2) exhibit the wrong sort of epistemic status for agency, and (3) lack the requisite agentive mental attitude of intentionality. I conclude that agency is incompatible with non-successive experience and therefore we should view the successive temporal structure of experience as a necessary condition for agency. I also suggest that the Succession Requirement may actually extend beyond my main focus on agency, offering preliminary considerations in favor of seeing successive experience as a precondition for selfhood as well. The consequences of the Succession Requirement are wide-ranging, and I discuss various implications for our understanding of agency, the self, time consciousness, and theology, among other things.



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Camden McKenna
University of Edinburgh

References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Actions, Reasons, and Causes.Donald Davidson - 1963 - Journal of Philosophy 60 (23):685.
Critique of Pure Reason.I. Kant - 1787/1998 - Philosophy 59 (230):555-557.
Getting Causes From Powers.Stephen Mumford & Rani Lill Anjum - 2011 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press. Edited by Rani Lill Anjum.
The Principles of Psychology.William James - 1890 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 11 (3):506-507.

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