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What are the reasons for a convinced metaphysical solipsist to get life insurance?

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    The possibility that they might be wrong. Sort of a Pascal's wager kind of thing.
    – user4894
    Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 6:33
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    Kindness for those around him who are not solipsists?
    – RodolfoAP
    Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 6:33
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    @RodolfoAP there is nobody around a solipsist
    – tejasvi88
    Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 6:35
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    That's two things not one. One, X is a solipsist. And two, X denies the possibility that he is wrong. Why can't someone be a solipsist and accept that he might be wrong? That's a perfectly reasonable position. And if he's wrong and buys no life insurance, his loved ones will suffer. He doesn't want to possibly make his loved ones suffer. So he buys life insurance in case he's wrong. That's the same reason anyone buys insurance. You know your house isn't going to burn down, but you buy insurance just in case.
    – user4894
    Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 7:17
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    I have long wondered why there are not more solipsists.
    – BillOnne
    Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 16:13

7 Answers 7

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The payout may never come, but the illusory beings around them don't know that

Imagine our solipsist is married with a child. Although the solipsist does not believe that their spouse and child exist as anything more than patterns in their own perceptions, they find something of value in experiencing those patterns. The solipsist has a high-paying job, and as a family they're well off, but the spouse doesn't have reliable income, so their finances may be shaky in the event of the solipsist's death. The solipsist sees no problem with this, because the family would not exist as even an illusion in the event of their death, but the spouse is very worried. The spouse asks about getting life insurance at least once a month, and is visibly uneasy. The solipsist is uncomfortable with this as a matter of instinctive human sympathy, or at the very least finds the reminders irritating, so they buy life insurance. Problem solved.

It's not buying a policy that will never benefit anyone, it's buying peace of mind for someone who happens not to exist.

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    @ScottRowe There is no externally derived meaning for a solipsist. Like all actions, the decision of marriage has ultimately a random/unknown basis.
    – tejasvi88
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 18:09
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    @tejasvi88 Random is very different from unknown basis. We can kick the question down the road forever if we don't know, but randomness brings inquiry to a halt.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 18:40
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    @ScottRowe My relationships with the other people in my life are the most meaningful and interesting interactions I have. If I believed that these other people were only figments of my imagination, it would still be true that they were deep, interesting connections. Despite them being fictions, the only way to access these experiences is by interacting with them like people. So it would be best to "keep the fiction alive". Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 20:10
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    @ScottRowe Solipsism can be thought of as superset of conventional reality. What was assumed to be real continues to be real but many concepts such as dreams generally assumed to be unreal become real too.
    – tejasvi88
    Commented Dec 28, 2022 at 2:56
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    A guy who listens to the voices in his head even though he knows they are only in his head really needs to see a therapist. Oh wait... ;-) Commented Dec 28, 2022 at 18:17
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Assuming they are properly convinced (ie they do not admit the possibility of being wrong) there are two reasons.

Firstly, some life insurance policies pay out early if the insured is certified by medical professionals as being shortly to die of an incurable illness, in which case the terminally ill solipsist may blow the full amount of their cover on the purchase of more imaginary experiences.

Secondly, the solipsist might believe their mind continues in some form after their corporeal death, and that in that newly detached form it might continue to experience the imaginary and irrational emotions that plagued it during its physical life; thus the solipsist might wish to pass on the sum assured to obtain and maintain an irrational sense of pleasure at having looked after imaginary dependents.

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  • Boy, if I thought that the basis for everything I experience was an illusion, I wouldn't stick around long.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 13:50
  • @ScottRowe serious non-rhetorical question: if your life is an illusion, and you can't tell, does it matter that it's an illusion? I find metaphysical questions like this to be interesting but largely un-actionable. Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 14:10
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    @JaredSmith Well, at the risk of me sounding naive or opinionated, un-actionable = doesn't matter. OTOH, entertainment is perfectly acceptable, as in: studying this stuff. Else why would I participate?
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 14:18
  • Fair enough, I'm here too. Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 14:31
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Epistemological and methodological solipsism both roughly maintain that only one's own existence can be demonstrated to exist (the former maintains it as a belief, whereas the latter maintains it through methodology).

Such a person may still be convinced, or find it sufficiently likely, that others exist due to their perception of those people. So solipsism shouldn't affect whether they get life insurance (whether they "should" get life insurance is different question that depends on their circumstances).


Metaphysical solipsism maintains that there is nothing external to this mind. I'll leave the epistemological criticism of that to Wikipedia.

But there may be some ambiguity about what "this mind" means. If you think in the sense of how humanity understands physical reality, then "this mind" has a clear meaning. But metaphysical solipsism maintains that physical reality doesn't exist, so that argument wouldn't work.

It seems you would need some variant of metaphysical solipsism that could be one of the following:

  • When you "die", all of perceived existence ceases to exist.

    If this is the case, then one wouldn't have much reason to get life insurance.

    But this only applies if you mean "dying" in a physical sense, and if physical reality doesn't exist, dying is nothing more than some thoughts, and it's not clear why that would make your consciousness cease to exist.

  • One would outlive one's physical death.

    There are infinitely many possibilities of what such a post-death existence would look like, and I can't address them all here. But at least for some of those getting life insurance would be to your advantage (e.g. if you next experience a deity judging you for how considerate you are towards others).

  • Other consciousnesses (of those you perceive as other people) exist within the same mind.

    This wouldn't be functionally different from reality actually existing: those consciousnesses would presumably continue to exist after "you" die, so this shouldn't affect whether one gets life insurance.


There is also some possible pre-death benefits to getting life insurance:

  • There is some social utility to getting life insurance (or at least convincing others that you have life insurance). This might affect how responsible and considerate you're considered to be by other people, which informs how they treat you (whether they actually exist or not).

  • Any given life insurance policy may pay out early or have other benefits. Although these likely wouldn't be financially worth it if you don't care about the actual life insurance (unless the life insurance policy is just one part of a broader policy, or the insurance company relies on the fact that most people don't fully make use of those benefits, which isn't unheard of).

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  • If someone finds it "sufficiently likely" that others exist, then entertaining any thoughts or beliefs of alternatives seems inexplicable to me. You take your best bet on the truth and move on.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 12:15
  • @ScottRowe Same might be applicable to God instead of ever changing scientific models attempting to explain the universe.
    – tejasvi88
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 18:11
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    @ScottRowe Is it impossible for something to seem "sufficiently likely" to an imperfect mind with imperfect information, while also being objectively false? If that's the case, how would you find this out, if not by exploring alternatives? (There is also something to be said about exploring alternatives because one finds doing so to be interesting, or one is trying to convince someone who believes in an alternative - it's hard to rationally convince someone of something if you don't understand their perspective.)
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 18:27
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Ill-formed question.

Solipsism does not imply the nonexistence of others (your previous comment: "there is nobody around a solipsist"). Solipsism implies the physical perception of others but the metaphysical impossibility to prove its existence as such (as others). More precisely, others exist empirically but can't be proven to exist in the external reality.

The error lies here: you write "there is nobody around a solipsist", implying that there are no human interactions (nobody around to interact with!), and therefore no possibility of the existence of insurances (what for? with who? for who?). Here, you are denying the empirical perception of others, which is just wrong. That's not solipsism. In such case, even the word "others" would not exist.

Later, you contradict yourself "others may exist". So, others are perceived as existing, and therefore, human interaction with others is perceived and existing. In such case, there are evident reasons to buy a life insurance (just google: "reasons to get a life insurance").

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  • You are referring to epistemological solipsism instead of its stronger form, metaphysical solipsism. Can you point out where I indicated “others may exist”?
    – tejasvi88
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 18:01
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What are the reasons for a convinced metaphysical solipsist to get life insurance?

One reason would certainly be if a convinced metaphysical solipsist was a dear friend to you. A life insurance seems like a good idea.

Ah, you now realise that you in fact have no friend who is a convinced metaphysical solipsist. There is a good reason for this. It is that convinced metaphysical solipsists simply don't exist (funny, that).

Metaphysical solipsism is not anything any reasonable person would argue seriously. Instead, it is a thought experiment which helps us understand that we cannot rationally prove to ourselves that the world outside our own mind exists for real. Thus, all we can do is believe that it does, and hope for the best.

Metaphysical Solipsism The idea that the mind of the subject is the whole of reality, so that the external world, and other persons with it, are mere representations within this mind, thus with no independent existence.

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    Metaphysical solipsism seems like a truth claim, not simply a thought experiment. You can treat the claim as a thought experiment, but it's a claim nonetheless. You seem to simply be dismissing the claim without any argument I can see, and asserting that it's nothing more than a thought experiment, which isn't a rebuttal at all, nor an answer to this question that treats it as a claim. (But maybe I didn't appropriately read between the lines for what you were trying to imply in the first 2 paragraphs.)
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 17:19
  • @NotThatGuy It's at truth claim and a thought experiment! Not all truth claims are equal, and we don't have to give them all the same level of consideration. Some can be dismissed out of hand with no great risk of error, especially after being proposed for millennia with no evidence. Yes?
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 13:45
  • @NotThatGuy Really? You have a friend who is a convinced metaphysical solipsist? Metaphysical solipsism as a claim cannot possibly be taken seriously. This should be obvious to every reasonable person, and there is no good reason to argue with unreasonable people. Have a good day. Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 16:17
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    @Speakpigeon Just because you want to exist doesn't mean you aren't just a product of someone else's mind, and just because you want other people to exist doesn't mean they aren't just a product of your mind. And even if neither of those things are true, that doesn't mean no-one believes it. You dismissing things as "obviously false" is how other people end up believing absurd things (and also how you end up denying an absurd-seeming true fact). If you don't think there's a good reason to argue against people who believe this, why did you post an answer here seemingly doing that?
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 16:32
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    Even if you do think it's nothing more than a thought experiment, think it through then. I don't see the logic behind "it's just a thought experiment, so I'm not going to answer your question". The point of a thought experiment is to think about.
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 16:32
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Solipsism is the view that the only certain truth is that of one's own existence. As for the existence of others, there's no certainty - they may or may not exist. Since others may exist, getting life insurance is consistent with solipsism.

If O = Others exist, solipsism is O v ~O means others may or may not exist If L = get life insurance then L implies O means getting life insurance implies others exist.

O v ~O L L implies O
T t F t T t T

To make the long story short, there's a line in the truth table above in which all the relevant statements are true - solipsism is perfectly consistent with taking out a life insurance even if doing that implies other people exist.

EDIT: Added some basic probability calculations because many SE members see a resemblance to Pascal's wager.

P(O) = probability that others exist

P(~O) = probability that others don't exist

L = The life insurance amount


Scenario 1 If you get life insurance,

The expected value = L × P(O) - L × P(~O) = L[P(O) - P(~O)]


Scenario 2 If you don't get life insurance,

The expected value = L × P(~O) - L × P(O) = L[P(~O) - P(O)]


If P(O) = P(~O) [50%], the game is fair (niether in favor nor against you, the expected value is 0 i.e. you won't lose money, but you won't win either, break even scenario).

If P(O) > P(~O), get life insurance.

If P(~O) > P(O), don't get life insurance.

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    This reminds me of the argument for belief in God as insurance in case it's true and there's an afterlife.
    – Barmar
    Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 15:42
  • @Barmar, indeed the similarities are striking.
    – Hudjefa
    Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 15:46
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    @Barmar, re, the connection to Pascal's wager was also noted by @‍user4894.
    – LSpice
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 0:44
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    @Barmar, we can't prove anything exists. Try and come up with some criteria and see for yourself.
    – Hudjefa
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 9:11
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    You are referring to epistemological solipsism instead of its stronger form, metaphysical solipsism where P(O) is 0.
    – tejasvi88
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 18:03
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I don't really see what's special about this question for a metaphysical solipsist. The metaphysical solipsist buys (or doesn't buy) life insurance for the same reasons they do anything else.

If they don't care to better the projected lives of the zombies around them then they generally won't do anything for them including buying life insurance. But if they do care to better the projected lives (because they get personal fulfilment or something) then they will buy life insurance in the service of that.

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