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Does our common sense believe that other people have minds because it is useful (just agnosticism and pragmatism), or because our common sense really has good reasons to believe that other people have minds?

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    Colloquially there're abundant reasons from a priori mind projection self-analogy to maximum a posteriori best explanation in a Bayesian manner to believe in the existence of other minds, despite its known difficulty as a perennial problem which is not even clear whether it's an empirical problem or not. Even one believes there're abundant such other minds yet one cannot have a direct spooky access to and form a complete and adequate mind about any of such minds. As Shurangam sutra hinted long ago: If you insist that the nature... Aug 28, 2023 at 22:05
  • which knows and observes and is aware of distinctions is the mind, then apart from all forms, smells, tastes, and touches...that mind should have its own complete nature. And yet now, as you listen to my Dharma, it is because of sound that you are able to make distinctions. Even if you could extinguish all seeing, hearing, awareness, and knowing, and maintain an inner composure, the shadows of your discrimination of dharmas would remain. Thus can you hear sounds when there're no sounds around, and in the same way that you know other minds exist when there're no other minds to answer you... Aug 28, 2023 at 22:41
  • The real trick is to hear silence when there are sounds around, and to realize that "There are no 'other people'," when there are people around.
    – Scott Rowe
    Aug 28, 2023 at 23:49

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Common sense is problematic. Minds can be reasonably inferred from our own consciousness, without which reason would be impossible. However, I do find the concept of other minds useful, and other concepts useless. Most of philosophy is useless.

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  • Finally, someone who agrees with me! :-)
    – Scott Rowe
    Mar 9 at 20:03
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The theory of other minds is so pragmatically and evolutionarily useful that we begin to develop it as babies, and we appear to be mostly hard wired to do so. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/ap.12080 The level of the theory improves and is refined as we mature though life, with most elements present by about 4 yrs old. https://www.structural-learning.com/post/theory-of-mind

"Common sense" is not a particularly useful concept -- it is used to mask investigation of what most of us know, and how/why we do so. Philosophers and scientists both need to look beyond "common sense". We develop theory of mind because it is massively useful and we are evolutionarily geared to do so. Autism and a number of other conditions are the result of their sufferers having less ability to develop theory of mind.

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  • Having something that can go wrong is a good indication that it exists.
    – Scott Rowe
    Mar 9 at 21:20
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It is reasonable to believe in other minds because it is the simplest explanation that explains why we describe the same experiences using similar words and report feeling pleasant and unpleasant experiences to the same kinds of stimulus. If other minds did not exist, this would all be one giant coincidence.

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You form a common sense belief in other minds in the same way you form many other beliefs- through experiences in childhood. No-one sits you down as a toddler to convince you through plausible argument that other people have minds- instead, you reach that conclusion unconsciously. Doubtless we have evolved to develop all kinds of common sense beliefs in that way. Although you might develop a believe in other minds without conscious reasoning, there are very good reasons to retain the belief on reflection. So the answer is that people hold common sense belief in other minds because it is useful and because there are good reasons for it.

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