For example, there is an argument of the best explanation in favor of the existence of other minds.


Is this argument used in science or is this argument only used in philosophy?

  • Science takes what is observed and goes from there, it is not its job to dispel metaphysical or epistemological skepticisms.
    – Conifold
    Sep 19, 2022 at 4:40
  • What does science say about the existence of other minds? Does science have any arguments or theories that prove the existence of other minds?
    – Johnny5454
    Sep 19, 2022 at 4:46
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    Other humans are empirically observed, their behavior can be studied. If mental constructs are useful for explaining and predicting it (as in psychology) then they are included into scientific theories. Science need not preoccupy itself any further. Of course, the more successful those theories become the more plausible it is that what they include is real, but such arguments are no longer part of science, that is what we have philosophy for.
    – Conifold
    Sep 19, 2022 at 4:57
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    Of course this argument is used in cognitive neurosciences, otherwise scientist should only study their own mind. But this doesn't philosophically prove solipsism is absolutely false and in fact phenomenally the opposite seems quite the best explanation in many cases as well... Sep 19, 2022 at 21:33
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    You've already perhaps subconsiously known there're many such cases otherwise you wouldn't persistently ask this question three times in this site and would be convinced theory of other minds. And definitely there're some places like lunatic asylums where such conjecture can be used for best explanation... Sep 22, 2022 at 1:08

2 Answers 2


All toddlers who develop to childhood have inferred the reality of our world, and of other minds. This is a process of informal empiricism, and like science, it does not operate off "proofs" but off pragmatic likelihoods. Science uses the same basic pragmatic methods as informal empiricism, just with more formal processes.

The DENIAL of our world, or of other minds, only appears later in life, and is based on philosophic NOT scientific thinking. The demand of "proof" of what one accepts as true is a epistemelogic criteria, and epistemology is explicitly philosophy. That proofs are only possible in math and logic, and logic cannot tell us anything about the contingent world, has also been demonstrated in philosophy (Kant's The Critique of Pure Reason was a key brick in this demonstration by philosophers), but is a lesson that often needs to be relearned by each generation of newly interested explores of philosophic thought.

  • Thank you. Tell me, do all arguments for the existence of other minds belong only to philosophy? That is, science did not have and there are no arguments in favor of the existence of other minds? That is, all arguments belong to philosophy.
    – Johnny5454
    Sep 19, 2022 at 14:51
  • We humans have an intrinsic evolutionarily developed epistemology of inferential pragmatism, which toddlers use to infer the existence of other minds, and which science and all other empiricism also use. The study of epistemology, and the demand to use a different one, were developed when people started thinking philosophically. Science has no arguments for its choice of epistemology -- that is in the field of philosophy of science.
    – Dcleve
    Sep 19, 2022 at 15:21
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    @Johnny5454 Suppose I see a watch and take it apart. I study it and learn that it works using a charged battery to supply power to operate. Then I see another watch and tests show it has identical construction and it is running. I can infer its battery is charged. The same applied to other minds. I can see that they are constructed similarly to me, operate similarly to me, and I know that I have a mind. One would need evidence to posit that a very different mechanism makes two very similar things operate very similarly. Sep 19, 2022 at 16:37
  • Thank you. Could you explain to me? Is the best explanation argument for the existence of other minds used in science, or is this argument only used in philosophy?
    – Johnny5454
    Sep 19, 2022 at 17:32
  • I doubt that toddlers have "inferred" anything about other minds in any sense that would be recognized in logic. The reality of the world and of other minds is probably just a part of maturation like the development of language. Infants don't infer what words mean, they just learn by unconscious association. Sep 19, 2022 at 19:11

I would add the following simple answer, since the OP asks whether an argument is scientific or philosophical.

Science simply accepts the world is real and that others, besides me, have minds as well.

Science also accepts evolution and wave-particle duality.

But philosophically one can doubt any of that and demand evidence or proof of a different kind and/or range.

So philosophically one can doubt evolution, others' minds and the reality of this world. Going far enough one can doubt one's own existence as well.

So arguments, in favor of other minds, are part of philosophy because philosophy is the only area where such doubts are raised. The best of those arguments corroborated by facts of this world.


  1. The argument from survival. Science accepts evolution and survival. Survival itself pushes beings to develop a theory of mind for other beings in the world in order to outsmart and survive or collaborate and survive. This coupled with the fact that survival is successful provides a practical proof or inference of other minds. In a sense it is a self-evident fact of life.
  2. The power of indirect proof. An indirect proof is equivalent to a direct proof when all the remainders point uniquely to the same assertion as that of a direct approach. Science uses indirect reasoning every time it infers unobserved entities from the behavior of other observed entities. One can argue that this is the definitive final argument for other minds, since a direct approach to experience another mind would literally make it "my mind", so the only alternative is the indirect inference.
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    Thank you very much!
    – Johnny5454
    Sep 21, 2022 at 3:44

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