The argument from analogy and the best explanation argument (IBE) rely on the claim that my mental states are responsible for my behavior and then conclude that the behavior of other people is caused by mental states, as in my case.

Does this reference to one's own case make these arguments circular? If not, give an example of what these arguments should look like to be cyclic.

What should the justification of belief in the existence of other minds look like so that it is not circular?

Thank you

  • 3
    They're not necessarily circular, but they probably necessarily have uncertain axiomatic assumptions, like just about everything
    – TKoL
    Apr 14 at 10:05
  • 1
    I don't see any circularity at all. How does "my behavior is determined by my mental states" presuppose "other people have mental states"? How can a claim about me presuppose a claim about people who are not me? Apr 14 at 14:42
  • All arguments eventually become circular, because straight lines do not occur naturally in the known universe. Linearity is theoretical. The question is the diameter of the circle. In this case the circle is the diameter of one single perspective, so it is in fact very likely to emerge as circular early in the consideration. Apr 14 at 16:54
  • "My mind exists, therefore, a mind exists" is circular, the conclusion restates the premise with some details removed. "My mind exists, therefore, other minds exist" is not circular, the conclusion does not restate the premise. Analogical arguments are generally non-circular, as they analogize something to something else.
    – Conifold
    Apr 14 at 22:38
  • Tell me, what should a cyclical argument in favor of the existence of other minds look like? I want to understand for the future how it is not necessary to formulate arguments in favor of the existence of other minds.
    – Arnold
    Apr 15 at 7:53

1 Answer 1


We do not know whether the mental processes of other persons cause their behaviour similarly to my mental processes causing my behaviour.

  • But other people belong to the same species. In general, they act similar to me in similar situations – subtracting differences of their character. Hence the most simple hypothesis: Yes, also their behaviour is caused by their mental processes.

    In first approximation, there is no fact which contradicts this hypothesis. In second approximation, specific differences in behaviour are ascribed to character differences, hence to different mental processes. Those are studied by psychology, e.g., by personality psychology, and under certain circumstances also by neuroscience.

  • My answer is similar to your analogy principle. The argument is not circular, but I am emphasizing the hypothetical character of this generalization, which is supported by observation and common evolutionary descent.

Aside: I do not know the principle of "the best explanation argument".

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