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Other Minds

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-V022-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 15, 2024, from

Article Summary

It has traditionally been thought that the problem of other minds is epistemological: how is it that we know other people have thoughts, experiences and emotions? After all, we have no direct knowledge that this is so. We observe their behaviour and their bodies, not their thoughts, experiences and emotions. The task is seen as being to uncover the justification for our belief in other minds. It has also been thought that there is a conceptual problem: how can we manage to have any conception of mental states other than our own? It is noteworthy that there is as yet no standard view on either of these problems. One answer to the traditional (epistemological) problem has been the analogical inference to other minds, appealing to the many similarities existing between ourselves and others. This answer, though it is no longer in general favour among philosophers, still has its defenders. Probably the favoured solution is to view other minds as logically on a par with the unobservable, theoretical entities of science. That other people have experiences, like us, is seen as the best explanation of their behaviour.

Citing this article:
Hyslop, Alec. Other Minds, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-V022-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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