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The argument that will be presented in this essay is The Problem of Other Minds, which is created by Bertrand Russell. The question that is trying to be answered is how can one justify that other people have minds? The solution that is given is as followed; since I’m thinking, and they are responding they have to be thinking too. This philosophy address several parts of the mind. The other emotions excluding thinking are sufficient, but might not be completely necessary. Meaning that if it is not there it still does not affect the solution. It addressed, self-awareness, consciousness that are relatable to each other, and emotions. If a person has all these traits then they must have a mind. One way to test self-awareness and consciousness is with something called the “mirror test.”
This test involves putting the subject one is testing in front of a mirror and putting a dot on its head or body. The way to pass this test is by being able to realize that it is himself or herself in the mirror and not someone or something else. When someone passes this test they are providing evidence that they are self-aware and conscious. Some animals have passed this test, including dolphins, killer whales, elephants, great apes and certain type of birds. This raises many questions about the true meaning of having a mind.
One major way to get around this “Problem of Other Minds” is to have the belief of Solipsism. This belief is that one’s mind is the only thing that exists, being that everything that exists is a reality that is created by that single mind. If one stops thinking about something it will not longer exist. This is not widely accepted. Another way to get around this would be called the Turing Test. This is a way to see if a computer is able to answer questions that only humans with minds should be capable to. If a computer is created that can compete with a human does this mean that the computer has a mind? Pigs are notorious for passing this test.
The other problems that the “Problem of Other Minds” has are verificationism, which is described as the theory about meaning. This would be if someone could comprehend a sentence and know how to verify or falsify it. This is a more widely accepted solution to the skeptics’ problems because it has the answers they need. One being the Mind and Body Problem, this problem is where the mind is directly changed from in the brain.
In the Problem of Other Minds an argument had been formed, which is called the “argument of analogy.” This argument concludes that because other people speak they must have thoughts, thus corresponding to how ones own thoughts are. In short terms Russell means “A causes B.” With this being true A must equal a person’s mental state, and B is the person’s behavior, or physical occurrence. An example of this is if someone was thirsty then they would go get a drink. The mental state is that they are thirsty, which makes their physical state do something about this thirst, such as get a drink.
Overall Russell’s argument is abductive. Thus being that, if the premises are true than the conclusion must be true. This meaning if someone thinks something, then does a physical action that will get rid of or help the mental situation they have they must have a mind. All though this argument is abductive, this does not mean other people will have disagreements to it. There had been numbers of hypotheses to get around these complications.
In summation we can conclude that, Russell had made an abductive argument, but still to the public has plenty of flaws, and many different solutions to get around the theory itself. Yet, this theory still makes some people agree that a mental state causes a behavior or physical occurrence, and a person has the core traits to be able to be considered to have a mind.
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