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Can I use multiple justifications for believing in the existence of other minds?

There are several good justifications for our belief in the existence of other minds.

  1. Theory of mind, which is part of our common sense, tells us that other people have minds. And we have no reason to doubt the existence of other minds

  2. We have no reason to doubt the existence of other minds.

Therefore, the argument by analogy and phenomenal conservatism are also good for our justification for believing in the existence of other minds.

  1. The best explanation argument (IBE) is a very strong justification for believing in the existence of other minds.

Can I use all of these justifications, or should I choose just one justification and discard all others?

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  • Why would you have to discard one? Jul 17, 2023 at 8:05
  • All your justifications are the same.
    – Daron
    Jul 17, 2023 at 8:16
  • So can I use all the justifications for believing in the existence of other minds or just one?
    – Arnold
    Jul 17, 2023 at 9:05
  • Not only can but must. As Peirce put it, "reasoning should not form a chain which is no stronger than its weakest link, but a cable whose fibers may be ever so slender, provided they are sufficiently numerous and intimately connected."
    – Conifold
    Jul 19, 2023 at 5:14

1 Answer 1

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You can have multiple justifications for something. Having more than one justification can be perfectly rational.

But...

  • The theory of mind doesn't solve the problem of the existence of other minds.

    The idea that knowledge of your own mind serves as an analogy for the knowledge of other minds seems to only make sense once you accept that perceived physical reality exists. Without that, there seems to be no reason to believe there are others in order to infer that they have minds.

  • "Common sense" is how people commonly end up believing unjustified things.

    If you have a belief based on common sense, that should be based on some argument or evidence that you intuitively understand, but you haven't made it explicit yet (and making it explicit would move you away from "common sense" to an evidence- and argument-based belief). If you believe something based on "common sense", but that's only because you were raised to believe it, for example, that's not a good reason to believe it.

  • Not having a reason to doubt something doesn't mean you have a reason to believe it.

So I'd just stick to the "best explanation argument" / Occam's razor, and avoiding adding unnecessary claims (of some existence aside from the one you perceive) that have no explanatory or predictive power.

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  • What about the argument by analogy and phenomenal conservatism?
    – Arnold
    Jul 17, 2023 at 9:02
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    @Arnold The idea that knowledge of your own mind serves as an analogy for the knowledge of other minds seems to only make sense once you accept that perceived physical reality exists. Without that, there seems to be no reason to believe there are others in order to infer that they have minds. I'm not too familiar with phenomenal conservatism (the view that, roughly, the way things appear is a source of justification for believing they're actually so), but that sounds very similar to IBE / Occam's razor, except I don't know how that deals with e.g. hallucinations.
    – NotThatGuy
    Jul 17, 2023 at 9:25
  • First of all, we believe in the existence of other minds thanks to the theory of mind that is part of our common sense. Can I believe in the existence of other minds using common sense and additionally using the best explanation argument, the argument by analogy, and phenomenal conservatism? Or should I choose only one thing, or discard common sense and use only arguments? If I use all the excuses, will they be rational or will they contradict each other?
    – Arnold
    Jul 17, 2023 at 10:03
  • @Arnold You can use as many justifications as you want. Having more than one justification can be perfectly rational. I don't see any contradictions between your given justifications, although I mentioned the potential problems I see with some of those justifications.
    – NotThatGuy
    Jul 17, 2023 at 10:22
  • So I can use common sense, the best explanation argument (BBE), the argument by analogy, and phenomenal conservatism to justify belief in the existence of other minds? And there will be no contradictions between these excuses? Can I use them all together?
    – Arnold
    Jul 17, 2023 at 10:32

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