How do you support your belief that other people have minds like yours?

Do you use any arguments to explain the reasons for your belief?

I believe that other people have minds and mental states like me.

But what can I do to support my faith?

If they ask me what is the reason for my faith, I don't know what to say.

I have asked many questions on this site about various arguments in favor of the existence of other minds, but the impression is that no one uses these arguments and they are all useless and unnecessary.

How then to maintain faith in other minds? What? Arguments? Intuition?

  • 1
    Philosophy is more amorphous than most other subjects (the WorldbuildingSE arguably is on a par on this score), so we can't expect the same kind of precision as the PhysicsSE can, for example, but still... EDIT: I will offer one argument for other minds that you have not, to my knowledge, brought up, but if that's not good enough for you, I'll have to VTC all future posts of yours of this nature. Dec 17, 2022 at 21:45

2 Answers 2


You have asked several questions about this topic, and seem to be struggling to understand or accept the answers you have received so far. I will try to explain them to you again.

I have no trouble whatsoever in believing that other people have minds similar to mine. Indeed, I struggle to imagine how anyone could doubt it, so much so that I consider philosophical works about the question of other minds as being largely pointless. My reasoning is a blend of two arguments that you have previously quoted, namely the argument from analogy and the 'best explanation' argument. I take the view that there are billions of other humans who are very similar to me in many respects- they have skin, eyes, hair, hands, legs, hearts lungs, brains, dna, etc like I do- so I can see no reason for supposing that I, uniquely among all those people, have the only mind. It seems bonkers to me to suppose that.

Imagine a slightly different question- what is the evidence for other humans to have the sense of hearing. The argument by analogy would be that I have a sense of hearing, and I am human, so it seems reasonable that everyone else has a sense of hearing.

The best explanation argument is different, in the following sense. Suppose you were an alien, a member of a race that had no sense of hearing and no conception of what it meant. You arrive on Earth and you study humans. It would not take you long to realise that humans communicate with each other, and that one form of communication involves moving the lips. You might think at first that humans lip-read, but then you will spot that the communication by mouth movement seems to work even when humans are not looking at each other. You will investigate and find that the mouth movement is associated with vibrations in the air. You will gradually figure out that human ears are capable of detecting the air vibrations. With enough time and effort you will figure out the physics of speech and hearing. You will have no idea what hearing is like, because you have never experienced it, but you will easily be able to gather compelling evidence that human ears can detect vibrations in air. Eventually you will learn much about sound and music in a very detached sense, observing them as physical phenomena, and you will be utterly convinced that hearing is common to most humans, because there is such widespread evidence for it. You would never employ the argument from analogy, because you don't have hearing and you are not a human.

So the essence of the argument by analogy is that you know you have a mind, and you are like everyone else, so it seems reasonable to suppose that they have minds too.

The essence of the 'best explanation' argument is that other people appear and behave as if they have minds, and there is no better way to account for that than by assuming they have minds.

  • Hear hear. It seems to me that the line of questioning arises from a somewhat artifical intepretation of the Cogito. I don't know if Descartes himself ever explored the question of solipsism, but some seem to think solipsism is an implication of 'cogito ergo sum' i.e. that only my own consciousness is indubitable.
    – Wayfarer
    Dec 18, 2022 at 0:06
  • @Wayfarer you are too kind! However, I agree. That interpretation of cogito is rather like saying I have legs so I can walk, then assuming that applies to no-one else. Dec 18, 2022 at 9:21
  • Is it possible to say with the help of the best explanation argument that other people have minds and mental states similar to my mind and mental states: the same types of emotions and feelings, the same thought processes. Or is an argument by analogy needed here as a supplement to the argument of the best explanation? Dec 19, 2022 at 16:38

Suppose that moral intuitionism is true. Now suppose you intuit that you have an obligation involving another "meat puppet," we'll call them Agent X, in your recurring vicinity. If you are obligated to respect Agent X's rights, then you are meant to represent Agent X as the kind of being that can have rights. If X really were just a "meat puppet," though, would you be obligated to accept the existence of X's rights?

This is, incidentally, the issue Kant faced in accounting for our responsibilities towards animals. He makes a lot out of distinguishing "duties with respect to animals," which he accepts, in contrast to "duties to animals directly," which he does not argue for. On the flip side, Kant also says that we have no duties to God, since even though God, if It exists, is a rational being par excellence, God is imperceptible; so though Kant speaks of taking the categorical imperative for a "divine command," this is more a matter of how high a priority we attribute to the categorical imperative (the equivalent of divine priority).

So you can maintain "faith" that other people have minds if you have "faith" in your moral intuitions, and if your moral intuitions involve other people in the relevant manner. There's an appearance of circularity here, granted, but at a certain point in the regress of reasoning, we end up with a measure of circularity however hard we try not to. Does this license us to adopt circular arguments for everything down the road, though? Perhaps not: we might hold to the standard, "Noncircular argumentation until otherwise unavoidable," and since the unavoidable kind turns out to be much like the circularity of dictionaries, there's a quasi-foundationalist aspect to it (or, then, a fusion of foundationalism and coherentism, as with Susan Haack's "foundherentism").

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