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I did not understand how this argument should sound.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/other-minds/#BestExpl

The article reads as follows: On this way of thinking, mental states are taken to be inner states of an individual that provide the best explanation of the behavior we observe in others.

I didn't get it a bit.

That is, the internal mental states of one person best explain the behavior of other people? Why is it not mentioned here that other people have minds?

Can someone explain this?

How does the argument of the best explanation in favor of other minds sound?

Thank you

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    Does this answer your question? Help with whether other minds exist, 'best explanation' argument Dec 15, 2022 at 7:01
  • I want to know what the best explanation argument sounds like. The article is not clearly written. plato.stanford.edu/entries/other-minds/#BestExpl Dec 15, 2022 at 7:59
  • What sort of answer would you find helpful? "If you don't know what you are looking for, how will you know when you find it?"
    – Scott Rowe
    Dec 15, 2022 at 17:45
  • The article reads as follows: On this way of thinking, mental states are taken to be inner states of an individual that provide the best explanation of the behavior we observe in others. - I didn't understand that. Why is it not mentioned here that other people have minds. Can you explain it more clearly? Dec 15, 2022 at 18:08
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    We can convince ourselves our own mental states explain our behavior (or a large part of our behavior), so the presence of mental states (having minds) in others best explains their behavior. Does that help?
    – J Kusin
    Dec 15, 2022 at 19:57

1 Answer 1

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The argument can be loosely summarised in the following way. On Earth there are billions of humans. The humans act individually. They talk and appear capable of understanding ideas, formulating ideas, and exchanging ideas. They seem able to perform tasks in logic and mathematics. They have powers of perception and memory. They can solve practical and abstract problems. They appear to be capable of self-analysis. Collectively such abilities can be labelled thinking. Countless experiments have confirmed that there is a link between thinking by individuals and chemical activities in their brains. It seems obvious, therefore, that every human has a similar set of mental abilities that is in some way bound up with processes in their brain. It is difficult to imagine a better explanation to account for all of the outward evidence of thought.

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    But in the past, people took all the occurrences of Nature as evidence for a multitude of spirits: for wind, plant growth and so on. How is this 'thinking' thing any different? Maybe we are all just parts of a big collective force. Plants turn to face the sun, but they don't have to have a spirit to do that. Colonies of ants and bees organize themselves.
    – Scott Rowe
    Dec 15, 2022 at 2:22
  • @ScottRowe 'Maybe we are all just parts of a big collective force'. Why is that a candidate for a better explanation? Dec 15, 2022 at 7:23
  • Tell me how the argument of the best explanation in favor of the existence of other minds should sound? In the article, it is a little vaguely formulated. Dec 15, 2022 at 9:46
  • Because we are parts of a big collective force. Did you see the movie "Arrival"?
    – Scott Rowe
    Dec 15, 2022 at 12:48
  • You have described the argument in sufficient detail, but I did not understand how it should sound. In the article it is written as follows: On this way of thinking, mental states are taken to be inner states of an individual that provide the best explanation of the behavior we observe in others. I do not understand this a bit. Can you elaborate more? Dec 15, 2022 at 18:30

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