Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-6c8bd87754-sbrr8 Total loading time: 0.275 Render date: 2022-01-17T01:20:49.210Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

God and other minds

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 February 2010

FIONA ELLIS*
Affiliation:
Heythrop College, University of London, Kensington Square, LondonW8 5HQ

Abstract

I reconsider the idea that there is an analogy between belief in other minds and belief in God, and examine two approaches to the relevant beliefs. The ‘explanatory inductive’ approach raises difficulties in both contexts, and involves questionable assumptions. The ‘expressivist’ approach is more promising, and presupposes a more satisfactory metaphysical framework in the first context. Its application to God is similarly insightful, and offers an intellectually respectable, albeit resistible, version of the doctrine that nature is a book of lessons.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

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

1. Plantinga, A.God and Other Minds (Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press, 1967Google Scholar).

2. J. Wisdom, ‘Gods’, in A. G. N. Flew (ed.) Logic and Language, 2nd series, VII (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1953).

3. Hughes, G. E.Plantinga on the rationality of God's existence’, Philosophical Review, 79 (1970), 246252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

4. Wittgenstein, LudwigPhilosophical Investigations (Oxford: Blackwell, 1953), 178Google Scholar.

5. See Avramides, AnitaOther Minds (London: Routledge, 2001Google Scholar); John McDowell ‘Singular thought and the extent of inner space’, in Philip Pettit and John McDowell (eds) Subject, Thought, and Context (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), 137–168.

6. Taliaferro, CharlesConsciousness and the Mind of God (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 114122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

7. McGinn, ColinWhat is the problem of other minds?’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, supplementary vol. 58, (1984), 123Google Scholar. See also Overgaard, SørenRethinking other minds: Wittgenstein and Levinas on expression’, Inquiry, 48 (2005), 259CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Plantinga, God and Other Minds, 188.

8. Dretske, FredPerception and other minds’, NoÛs, 7 (1973), 3344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

9. Macdonald, CynthiaSelf-knowledge and the inner eye’, Philosophical Explorations, 1 (1998), 83106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar, for a defence.

10. This section is influenced by Wikforss, AsaDirect knowledge and other minds’, Theoria, 70 (2004), 271293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

11. For a defence, see Aune, BruceOther minds after twenty years’, Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 11 (1987), 559574CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Paul M. Churchland Matter and Consciousness (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1984), ch. 4. See also Hilary Putnam ‘Other minds’, in idem Mind, Language and Reality: Philosophical Papers, II (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975); John McDowell ‘Criteria, defeasibility, and knowledge’, in idem Meaning, Knowledge, and Reality (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1988), 369–394; and Wikforss ‘Direct knowledge and other minds’ for criticisms.

12. Churchland Matter and Consciousness, 72, welcomes this implication.

13. Aune ‘Other minds after twenty years’, 346. See also Wikforss ‘Direct knowledge and other minds’, s.2.2.

14. See McDowell, JohnMind and World, Lecture 4 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994Google Scholar). See also Wikforss, ‘Direct knowledge and other minds’, s.1.3.

15. This section is influenced by Overgaard, ‘Rethinking other minds’.

16. R. Rhees (ed.)‘Wittgenstein's notes for lectures on “private experience” and “sense data”’, Philososophical Review, 77 (1968), 302–303.

17. McDowell ‘Criteria, defeasibility, and knowledge, 387.

18. Ibid., 384.

Ibid.

19. Ibid., 393.

Ibid.

20. Taliaferro Consciousness and the Mind of God, 115.

21. See also P. F. Strawson ‘Self, mind, and body’, in idem Freedom and Resentment and Other Essays (London: Methuen, 1974), ch. 8.

22. Taliaferro Consciousness and the Mind of God, 114–122.

23. See also Grigg, RichardThe crucial disanalogies between properly basic belief and belief in God’, Religious Studies, 26 (1990), 393394CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Michael Martin Atheism: A Philosophical Justification (Philadelphia PA: Temple University Press, 1990), 274; and Garth Hallett A Middle Way to God (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 26.

24. Paul Tillich Systematic Theology 1 (Chicago IL: Chicago University Press, 1973), 205.

25. Ferre, FrederickThe uses and abuses of theological arguments’, Journal of Religion, 41 (1961), 182193CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

26. Richard Swinburne The Existence of God (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979).

27. Mackie, J. L.The Miracle of Theism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982), 291Google Scholar.

28. This section is influenced by Clark, Kelly JamesProofs of God's existence’, Journal of Religion, 69 (1989), 5984CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

29. Swinburne The Existence of God, 291.

30. Mackie The Miracle of Theism, 253.

31. Robinson, JohnHonest to God (London: SCM Press, 1963)Google Scholar; Schubert Ogden The Reality of God and Other Essays (Dallas TX: Southern Methodist University Press, 1963); John Macquarrie Thinking about God (London: SCM Press, 1975); Grace Jantzen God's World, God's Body (London: Darton, Longman, and Todd, 1984).

32. Philip Clayton ‘Panentheism in metaphysical and scientific perspective’, in Philip Clayton and Arthur Peacocke (eds) In Whom We Live and Move and Have Our Being: Panentheistic Reflections on God's Presence in a Scientific World (Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 76–77.

33. Robinson, JohnExploration into God (London: SCM Press, 1967), 22Google Scholar.

34. See Jantzen God's World, God's Body, 128.

35. Ibid., 134.

Ibid.

36. McDowell Mind and World, 71.

37. Ibid., 72.

Ibid

38. Jantzen God's World, God's Body, 151.

39. Ibid., 134–135.

Ibid.

40. Ibid., 125.

Ibid.

41. Ibid., 126–127.

Ibid.

42. Ibid., 151.

Ibid.

43. Ibid., 153.

Ibid.

44. Ibid., 152.

Ibid.

45. See Taliaferro Consciousness and the Mind of God, 196–210.

46. Ibid., 288–338.

Ibid.

47. I am grateful to Mike Inwood, Gerry Hughes, Gemma Simmonds, Craig French, Brian O'Shaughnessy, Roger Scruton, and Paul Snowdon for their indispensable and generous support. I would also like to thank an anonymous referee for this journal whose comments contributed greatly to my understanding of the problem.

2
Cited by

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@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 sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent 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.

God and other minds
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send 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 use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

God and other minds
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send 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 use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

God and other minds
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? *