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  1. If I use the IBE argument to justify my belief in the existence of other minds, but I don't know how the argument reached its conclusion, can I just trust the experts who formulated the argument or will it be circular reasoning?

  2. If I rely on my common sense and believe in the existence of other minds, but I do not know whether the beliefs of common sense are justified, can I rely on experts who say that we can trust common sense, or will it be circular reasoning?

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  • we accept very many things on authority. it is good and useful to question authority, but if it is legitimate authority we should believe it (defeasibly etc.). i don't know why it is light is a wave and a particle, but i do believe it (though in this instance i'm not entirely sure what it means). and i mean that especially for explanations
    – user67521
    Sep 3, 2023 at 3:42
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    What about the existence of other minds? In order to rely on experts, you need to believe in the existence of other minds. But if you believe in the existence of other minds, then there is no need to rely on arguments and experts.
    – Arti
    Sep 3, 2023 at 4:38
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    I do not know. I want to ask you. Circular reasoning is when the conclusion lies in the premises. If I believe that the existence of other minds is the best explanation for other people's behavior because the experts said so, then my reasoning is circular, and therefore I cannot use this justification for my belief in the existence of other minds, because this requires already believing in the existence of other minds. Where did I go wrong?
    – Arti
    Sep 3, 2023 at 8:09
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    @forlove1: It's quite consistent for me to insist that I am a p-zombie and that -- by Turing's convention of other minds -- all humans are p-zombies. There's no evidence against it. If you write an answer, please keep this in mind.
    – Corbin
    Sep 3, 2023 at 15:00
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    IBE doesn't need expert mind but a reliable source, what's this source? How you infer from best explanation that some person was around after you saw a human sized footprint? How you infer what exists on that table is an apple instead of an orange? How you infer what's the best way to solve Riemann hypothesis (via analytic or algebraic number theory)? Possibly you can infer the first two but not the last since you may not get trained enough or formed certain intuition from your own experiences' supervision about tackling Riemann conjecture. Most people infer other minds from their parents... Sep 4, 2023 at 22:46

4 Answers 4

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Generally, I would not recommend reliance on authority. It often fails. It seems reasonable to infer the existence of other minds from behaviour. I see no incompatibility with common sense. I do not see any circular reasoning.

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In the Heideggerian œuvre other minds are included from the start in Dasein's primary mode of Mitsein (being-with). E.g. from Being & Time (116):

[The] positive Interpretation of Dasein which we have so far given, already forbids us to start with the formal givenness of the "I", if our purpose is to answer the question of the "who" in a way which is pheno­menally adequate. In clarifying Being-in-the-world we have shown that a bare subject without a world never 'is' proximally, nor is it ever given. And so in the end an isolated "I" without Others is just as far from being proximally given. If, however, 'the Others' already are there with us [mit da sind] in Being-in-the-world, and if this is ascertained phenomenally, even this should not mislead us into supposing that the ontological structure of what is thus 'given' is obvious, requiring no investigation. Our task is to make visible phenomenally the species to which this Dasein-with in closest everydayness belongs, and to Interpret it in a way which is ontologically appropriate.

To quote the IEP:

[The phenomenal reduction] enables the phenomenologist to go “back to the ‘things themselves'”(Husserl 2001, 168), meaning back to the ways that things are actually given in experience. Indeed, it is precisely here, in the realm of phenomena, that Husserl believes we will find that indubitable evidence that will ultimately serve as the foundation for every scientific discipline. As such, it is vital that we are able to look beyond the prejudices of common sense realism, and accept things as actually given.

Hence the phenomenological starting point is direct experience which is culturally embedded from its earliest development.

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  • you might want to add a commentary on what you think heidegger means here?
    – user67521
    Sep 3, 2023 at 17:43
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    Everything boils down to the fact that if I trust experts, it will mean that I already believe in the existence of other minds. That is, the conclusion will lie in one of the premises. As far as I understand, we can rely on experts in any situation, but not in matters of the existence of other minds. It is impossible to say that I believe in other minds because experts say that other minds exist, because in order to rely on experts you have to believe that they have minds.
    – Arti
    Sep 3, 2023 at 17:59
  • why does an expert need a mind? that's all i'm confused about @Arti is ai really that bad? haha
    – user67521
    Sep 3, 2023 at 18:02
  • Of course, we can rely on experts simply as a reliable source that does not require a conscious mind, then it will not be circular reasoning. But then I need to explain why I consider it a reliable source. Here you can rely solely on your own experience, but since I lack knowledge, I need to rely on experts again, which will again become circular.
    – Arti
    Sep 3, 2023 at 18:02
  • oh i get it: either you believe the expert because they have a mind or you don't know what makes them reliable. right @Arti ? fwiw, i believe professional peer review processes because doing so definitely seems more reliable than asking random people. it may be the case that i only care who is reliable because i believe in other minds. dunno
    – user67521
    Sep 3, 2023 at 18:06
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OK let's take some branching possibilities. We meet someone, call them nibroc, who we ask if they are a p zombie. There are a few different scenarios that may be occurring

  1. nibroc is not a zombie
  2. nibroc is a zombie and is an authority on that
  3. nibroc is a zombie but is not an authority on that but some people are
  4. nibroc is a zombie but is not an authority on that and no-one is

1 means we should not be solipsists. 2 means not all appeal to authority on solipsism assumes other minds^. 3 repeats 1 and 2 for others like nibroc. 4 is the only option: but how can you decide that no-one is an authority without just assuming that no-one is?

Anyway, there are reasons (ones which are not obviously question begging) to suppose such an authority can exist. The bible is oft said to be an authority on morality; it does not have a mind. It is trivially easy to imagine - though not establish that they are - someone who is an authority on whether they themselves have a mind: absolutely anyone with a mind, etc. (I'm just a moron on a forum).

^ you are begging the question if only people claiming to be zombies should be believed, at least if you have not already established their authority or their lack of a mind.

tl;dr

I don't think anyone has shown that all arguments from authority assumes other minds, nor that no-one is an authority on solipsism.

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    For what it's worth, I am a p-zombie. This isn't an authoritative claim, though; it's just words from my fingers to your screen.
    – Corbin
    Sep 3, 2023 at 16:26
  • great. sorry but you lack the authority necessary to make your claim believable @Corbin i definitely am NOT a p zombie, and i do not believe you are either
    – user67521
    Sep 3, 2023 at 16:27
  • does everyone who claims to be a p zombie necessarily lack the authority to make that claim @Corbin believable etc.?
    – user67521
    Sep 3, 2023 at 16:30
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    It's merely a disagreement. What might vex you is the lack of evidence for either side of the disagreement!
    – Corbin
    Sep 3, 2023 at 16:34
  • i suppose the issue is that for solipsists you shouldn't believe what others tell you because only other minds are worthy of being... trusted @Corbin ?
    – user67521
    Sep 3, 2023 at 17:07
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I think it's helpful to first consider some examples where it's clearer whether it's circular or not.

Example 1: "I believe that vaccines are beneficial because experts say so." This does not seem circular. We can in principle debate whether it isn't better to look at the evidence for oneself, whether the experts are in fact experts and trustworthy, etc., but none of this seems to involve circularity.

Example 2: "I believe that one should trust experts because experts say so." This seems very circular. If one doesn't trust experts already, this gives one no reason to trust experts.

So the question is whether your cases are more like example 1 or more like example 2. To me, they certainly don't seem as circular as example 2. But perhaps, for example with your second case, it could be circular -- for example, if the reason you trust experts is that it's the commonsensical thing to do; or perhaps if you are really considering a skeptical hypothesis such as "Is this all just a dream?" (see, e.g., https://press.princeton.edu/books/paperback/9780691128597/dream-death-and-the-self), in which case these experts would just be created by your imagination perhaps precisely in a way to keep you believing in the dream.

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