Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Experimental Evidence for the Existence of an External World

  • ERIC SCHWITZGEBEL (a1) and ALAN T. MOORE (a2)
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.

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

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of the American Philosophical Association
  • ISSN: 2053-4477
  • EISSN: 2053-4485
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-american-philosophical-association
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 7
Total number of PDF views: 78 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 271 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 19th July 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.