Is time a philosophical concept or a scientific concept?

How about neither? Or both? (Or both neither and both?)

Put another way... Time is just one of our many concepts. By far most people who use the concept of time aren't philosophers and aren't scientists either. And so the concept of time as such isn't a peculiarly philosophical concept, nor a peculiarly scientific one.

That said, time has a special place in science as a fundamental parameter. We can do a lot of science without the concept of sex, for example, even though there's a place in science for the study of sex. (And of course, if there were no sex, science would grind to a halt in a few decades!) But outside of mathematics, we can't do much science without the concept of time. Moreover, physicists have things to say about time that are deep and surprising and were mostly beyond the imagination of the philosophers and the folk until relatively recently.

Philosophers have long taken an interest in time as well, and have taken it as a special subject for philosophical analysis. They've considered the question of whether time "passes" or "flows." They've asked whether the idea of changing the past is coherent. They've considered the logic of temporal language, thought about the possibility of branching time and offered theories of the nature of time itself.

Truly sophisticated thinking about time benefits both from what we learn from physics and from the special kind of care that philosophers pay to the inner workings of our concepts. If you browse the answers to various questions about time on this site, you'll see that the answers draw both on what science has to say and on the need to make careful distinctions of the sort that philosophers are in the business of making. But in spite of the special place that it's had in philosophical and scientific thought, the concept of time belongs to everybody.

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