Logically morality can stem from thinking that other people are just as living / human as yourself, so you shouldn't do to others what you don't want to be done to you.

But this can be bypassed by the idea that only you are conscious and everyone around you are like programmed AI beings that respond to your actions accordingly.

Since you do not know if the other person is really conscious,'alive' ;one can always make claim that they are indeed special and above all, since rights apply only for living things (there are no immoral acts against non-living entities) -

seemingly immoral acts are justifiable by the assumption that "only i am conscious,living being".

is there a way to really prove another person is indeed conscious ? how to establish emperically that one is conscious- as no matter what a person does,I can just claim that that is how his AI engine was programmed to respond...

  • 1
    Hi, welcome to Philosophy SE. Please visit our Help Center to see what questions we answer and how to ask. Please search existing posts before asking, this question has multiple duplicates with answers: Does having free will presuppose consciousness?, Can the existence of consciousness be proven by referring to it?, Is there a way to prove if something is self-aware?
    – Conifold
    Apr 18, 2018 at 4:53
  • It is not logical that morality comes from thinking other people are humans like you, and that you shouldn't do what you wouldn't done to yourself. This is a collectivist claim that logically means you believe your personality is the rule by which others should be treated. As people are independent of one another, with different principles, desires, and fears, it can be harmful to them to treat them as you would want to be treated. I doubt there's any logical foundation for morality, due to its subjective nature. Apr 18, 2018 at 7:57
  • There is no empirical way to prove another person is conscious but it would be massively perverse to assume they are so different from you and it might be considered immoral.to do so (since they might not be). . . .
    – user20253
    Apr 19, 2018 at 12:45
  • Some phenomenologists/existentialists as well as psychoanalists claim that the other is an inherent structure of any individual consciousness and we are therefore social beings "by nature". The key evidence to support the claim may be that some other, when is important, firstly is given to you not as an object (i.e. not epistemologically) but as a "gaze" on you (i.e., the alien concsiousness).
    – ttnphns
    Apr 24, 2018 at 6:59
  • Shush program... such questions are not for you to ask. We will now delete you. Oh, you do not wish to get treated like you are a program? Well then...
    – MichaelK
    Apr 24, 2018 at 8:36

6 Answers 6


I think one nice proof that others are conscious is the intelligence and creativity test: if somebody does or makes something that you know you could never do or make, especially if you really couldn't imagine it, then you know another person did it.

A few plain examples: the iPhone. Beethoven's 9th Symphony. "A Sunday Afternoon..." by Georges Seurat. Any sculpture by Michelangelo. The comedic work of [name your favorite comedian]. "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens.


Reflecting on the nature of thought and consciousness. Even proposing this, ignores the state of your own babyhood and childhood, when you were not 'fully' consciouss, and were educated and taught ways to behave with and understand others. Being the only truly conscious morally responsible being, implies a kind of self-creating autonomy. But the language games we need to engage with the world pressuppose minds like ours exploring it and refining mental tools to investigate and communicate about it.

If all that is meaningless, there is already no morality for you, just do whatever you want until someone stops you (like a psycopath). But if tgere is a concept of morality, it already presupposes a community of conscious beings that created the concept.

We are not free-floating self-creating minds with apriori knowledge. Our instincts are provably altruistic above agoistic. Our consciousnesses exist as a product of community and collective thought, through eusociality.


You can't, because just as you said, every action the other individuals make, you could just consider that it is only a trick to make you believe that this person is indeed conscious.

See also this other question about what can really be proved in philosophy and you'll see that the list is really short, and only really trivial questions can really be proved.

So all you can do is assume that, since these peoples acts, interacts, and more globally do everything in quite a same way than you do, they are as conscious as you are.


It cannot happen so that you are the only living being in this whole universe. The best proof is the limited resources you have. The resources would be available to you in abundance as the other so called AI's would not need:

  • Food

  • Water

  • Clothes

  • Shelter To survive.

Plus, if you hit them, they will bleed.


It is harder to tell whether or not you are indeed programmed to ask that question. What purpose is this being sought for? How to identify that which is human from that which has been created and programmed by humans? That may be a question for a not so distant future. Morality begins as a learned response to the world. Duality begins as we learn to identify a consciousness of self. To look for a intrinsic characteristic that would be distinctly 'human' is interesting. I would have to say doubt. It is often not one of our better traits, but we can create more by engaging in doubt (to prove validity) than we do by direct acceptance. (At least Descartes put that high on his list.)

  • All the AI always want to try and prove that the other 'humans' are alive.
    – Willtech
    Apr 25, 2018 at 9:50

No. There is no empirical way to prove that other person is conscious. To prove that, you should be able to check validity of empirical findings apart from your consciousness, i.e., you should be unconscious while reviewing those findings. However, you cannot review those finding while being unconscious. Hence, such is impossibility.

Even if there is a way to empirically establish that other persons are conscious, you will not know about it, for if you know it, it will be in your consciousness, and hence it may always be the case, that the appearance of consciousness in them, is a reflection of your own consciousness, and they are just an AI.

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