Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-768dbb666b-dkbpd Total loading time: 0.3 Render date: 2023-02-05T06:58:01.373Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

Experimental Evidence for the Existence of an External World

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2015

ERIC SCHWITZGEBEL
Affiliation:
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT RIVERSIDEeschwitz@ucr.edu
ALAN T. MOORE
Affiliation:
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT RIVERSIDE

Abstract:

In this essay I attempt to refute radical solipsism by means of a series of empirical experiments. In the first experiment, I exhibit unreliable judgment about the primeness or divisibility of four-digit numbers, in contrast to a seeming Excel program. In the second experiment, I exhibit an imperfect memory for seemingly arbitrary three-digit number and letter combinations, in contrast to my seeming collaborator with seemingly hidden notes. In the third experiment, I seem to suffer repeated defeats at chess. In all three experiments, the most straightforward interpretation of the experiential evidence is that something exists in the universe that is superior in the relevant respects—theoretical reasoning (about primes), memorial retention (for digits and letters), or practical reasoning (at chess)—to my own solipsistically conceived self.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © American Philosophical Association 2015 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Beebe, James. (2009) ‘The Abductivist Reply to Skepticism’. Philosophy & Phenomenological Research, 79, 605–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Beiser, Frederick. (2005) Hegel. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Berkeley, George. ([1710] 1965) A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge . In Turbayne, C. M. (ed.), Principles, Dialogues, and Philosophical Correspondence. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
BonJour, Laurence. (1985) The Structure of Empirical Knowledge. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
BonJour, Laurence. (2003) ‘A Version of Internalist Foundationalism’. In BonJour, L. and Sosa, E. (eds.), Epistemic Justification. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
Broughton, Janet. (2002) Descartes's Method of Doubt. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Burge, Tyler. ([1999] 2013) ‘A Warrant for Belief in Other Minds’. In Cognition Through Understanding. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chalmers, David J. ([2003] 2010) ‘The Matrix as Metaphysics’. In The Character of Consciousness. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chalmers, David J. (2012) Constructing the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
DeRose, Keith. (1995) ‘Solving the Skeptical Problem’. Philosophical Review, 104, 152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Descartes, René. ([1641] 1984) Meditations on First Philosophy . In Cottingham, J., Stoothoff, R., and Murdoch, D. (eds.), The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, vol. 2. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Dicker, Georges. (2008) ‘Kant's Refutation of Idealism’. Noûs, 42, 80108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dretske, Fred. (2003) ‘Skepticism: What Perception Teaches’. In Luper, S. (ed.), The Skeptics. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.Google Scholar
Fichte, Johann G. ([1797] 2000) Foundations of Natural Right. Edited by Neuhouser, F.. Translated by Bauer, M.. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Guyer, Paul. (1987) Kant and the Claims of Knowledge. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hill, Christopher S. (1991) Sensations. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Hegel, G. W. F. ([1807] 1977) Phenomenology of Spirit. Translated by Miller, A. V.. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Hume, David. ([1740] 1978) A Treatise of Human Nature. Edited by Selby-Bigge, L. A. and Nidditch, P. H.. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Kant, Immanuel. ([1781–87] 1929) Critique of Pure Reason. Translated by Smith, N. Kemp. New York: St Martin's.Google Scholar
Lem, Stanislaw. ([1961] 1970) Solaris. Translated by Kilmartin, J. and Cox, S.. San Diego, CA: Harcourt.Google Scholar
Lewis, David. (1996) ‘Elusive Knowledge’. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 74, 549–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Locke, John. ([1689] 1975) Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Edited by Nidditch, P. H.. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
McCain, Kevin. (2011) ‘Inference to the Best Explanation and the External World’. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Rochester.Google Scholar
McCain, Kevin. (2012) ‘The Predictivist Argument against Skepticism’. Analysis, 72, 660–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mill, John Stuart. (1867) An Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy. London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer.Google Scholar
Moore, G. E. (1939) ‘Proof of an External World’. Proceedings of the British Academy, 25, 273300.Google Scholar
Nolan, Lawrence, and Nelson, Alan. (2006) ‘Proofs for the Existence of God’. In Gaukroger, Stephen (ed.), The Blackwell Guide to Descartes’ Meditations. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
Pargetter, Robert. (1984) ‘The Scientific Inference to Other Minds’. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 62, 158–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Peacocke, Christopher. (2004) The Realm of Reason. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Price, H. H. (1938) ‘Our Evidence for the Existence of Other Minds’. Philosophy, 13, 425–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Quine, W. V. O. ([1966] 1976). Ways of Paradox. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Reichenbach, Hans. ([1938] 2006) Experience and Prediction. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
Russell, Bertrand. (1912) The Problems of Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Russell, Bertrand. (1914) Our Knowledge of the External World. London: George Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
Schwitzgebel, Eric. (2011) Perplexities of Consciousness. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Schwitzgebel, Eric. (2012) ‘Introspection, what?’. In Smithies, D. and Stoljar, D. (eds.), Introspection and Consciousness. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Schwitzgebel, Eric. (2013) ‘Hans Reichenbach's Cubical World and Elliott Sober's Beach’, blog post at The Splintered Mind, March 19. Available at: http://schwitzsplinters.blogspot.com/2013/03/hans-reichenbachs-cubical-world-and.html (accessed Oct. 21, 2014).Google Scholar
Schwitzgebel, Eric. (2014) ‘Stanislaw Lem's Proof that the External World Exists’, blog post at The Splintered Mind, January 21. Available at: http://schwitzsplinters.blogspot.com/2014/01/stanislaw-lems-proof-that-external.html (accessed Oct. 21, 2014).Google Scholar
Sober, Elliott. (1975) Simplicity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sober, Elliott. (2011) ‘Reichenbach's Cubical Universe and the Problem of the External World’. Synthese, 181, 321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sosa, Ernest. (2000) ‘Skepticism and Contextualism’. Philosophical Issues, 10, 118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stern, Robert. (2012) ‘Is Hegel's Master-Slave Dialectic a Refutation of Solipsism?’. British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 20, 333–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Strawson, Peter. (1959) Individuals. London: Methuen.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stroud, Barry. (1984) The Significance of Philosophical Scepticism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stroud, Barry. (1994) ‘Kantian Arguments, Conceptual Capacities, and Invulnerability’. In Parrini, P. (ed.), Kant and Contemporary Epistemology. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
Thornton, Stephen P. (2004). Solipsism and the Problem of Other Minds. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Available at: www.iep.utm.edu/solipsis (accessed August 25, 2014).Google Scholar
Vogel, Jonathan. (1990) ‘Cartesian Skepticism and Inference to the Best Explanation’. Journal of Philosophy, 87, 658–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vogel, Jonathan. (2005) ‘The Refutation of Skepticism’. In Steup, M. and Sosa, E. (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Epistemology. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
Vogel, Jonathan. (2008) ‘Internalist Responses to Skepticism’. In Greco, J. (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Skepticism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Williams, Michael. (1991) Unnatural Doubts. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
Wittgenstein, Ludwig. ([1950–1951] 1974) On Certainty. Edited by Anscombe, G. E. M. and von Wright, G. H.. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
Zellner, Arnold, Zeuzenkamp, Hugo A., and McAleer, Michael, eds. (2001) Simplicity, Inference, and Modeling. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
2
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Experimental Evidence for the Existence of an External World
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Experimental Evidence for the Existence of an External World
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Experimental Evidence for the Existence of an External World
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *