Difficulty 2 - epiphenomenalism is true, and that...

Info iconThis preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Difficulty 2: Epiphenomenalism and Knowledge of Other Minds If the correct justification of one's beliefs about the mental states of others is provided by the inference to the best explanation approach, it follows that if it turns out to be possible to explain all behavior by reference simply to physical states of affairs, one will no longer be justified in ascribing minds to other organisms. So assuming that one would still be justified in ascribing mental states to oneself, the result is that future scientific advances might well compel one to become a solipsist, and to believe that the only person that exists is oneself. This picture of one's knowledge of the mental states of others getting undercut by future advances in neurophysiology is a somewhat disconcerting one. The argument from analogy has the advantage that it avoids any such situation, since it is enough for the argument from analogy if there are causal relations running from the physical to the mental. So if it turns out that
Background image of page 1
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: epiphenomenalism is true, and that physiological events give rise to states of consciousness, but that the latter have no causal effects upon physical events, this will not affect one's knowledge of other minds at all if such knowledge is based upon the argument from analogy. Whereas if one's knowledge of other minds rests upon the inference to the best explanation, one will cease to have such knowledge if good evidence in support of epiphenomenalism is discovered. It's unclear how much force this difficulty has. The main question is whether epiphenomenalism is itself a coherent position. Some philosophers would probably reply to this difficulty by arguing that epiphenomenalism is internally inconsistent. Others might argue that even if epiphenomenalism is a coherent position, we can know that it is not true, and thus the suggestion that our knowledge of other minds, if based upon the inference to the best explanation, might be undermined at some future date, is not a real possibility....
View Full Document

Ask a homework question - tutors are online