If asked questions about other minds, how would/does he respond, and does/would he nest his response in physical science and reductionist/determinist models? Does he say that their existence is easily demonstrated? Doesn't need to be demonstrated? Other?


Dawkins shows every sign of being a (philosophical) realist and resisting attempts at philosophical complication of empirically robust results. (If pushed, I'm pretty sure he'll follow the data: "the best model is that reality is 'real'".)

Therefore, he would, I imagine, say that we have oodles of evidence that our minds are all quite similar; whether or not it's easy to demonstrate, we have so much evidence that it is easy to draw the conclusion.

If you come up with some weird philosophical construct that raises doubt that there are other minds, Dawkins would likely respond with: is that parsimonious? Is that predictive? Does it have explanatory power? (And probably a few choice words of a less polite nature making clear that he doesn't think much of the process that makes one take such a proposition seriously in the face of so much evidence.)

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    Here's the thing: if you believe reductionist/determinist physics describes the behavior of a rock, and you don't need consciousness there, and you believe identical physical law describes the behavior of your neighbor, what do you need consciousness for? In empirical science, you either need to observe something, or require something to explain what is observed. Consciousness is neither, if the rock and the person follow the same physics. – Jonathan Dunn Feb 13 '15 at 21:48
  • @JonathanDunn Is this the argument you're making: physics basically completely describes the behaviour of rocks, and thus the behaviour of everything in the universe can be (parsimoniously) described in terms of the behaviour and features of rocks? – Dave Feb 14 '15 at 3:39
  • I'm inspecting materialism, in which rocks and other things are all described by the same physical laws. If you believe those laws completely describe the motions of each particle in your neighbor's body, what is left over for consciousness to explain? Nothing - and so it is not in evidence - and so how can you claim it is there - if consciousness does not do anything then there is no evidence for it. – Jonathan Dunn Feb 14 '15 at 8:54
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    @JonathanDunn: of course, Dawkins presumably has conscious experience, and would also think physical law also applies to him. He wouldn't know how he was conscious, but given that he is, he might suppose that whatever brings about consciousness about for him would also bring it about for others. – Niel de Beaudrap Feb 14 '15 at 15:17
  • Niel, all of which is reasonable in some sense, but he and the others claim to be reasonable in a very specific way - endeavoring to always adhere to scientific method - and in this particular type of reasonable, consciousness "out there" is not actually in evidence, nor can it be inferred (if all phenomena are due to mostly-known physical laws). – Jonathan Dunn Feb 14 '15 at 16:18

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