Other Minds pp 131-139 | Cite as

Strawson on Other Minds

Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 246)


The fmal attack that I shall consider on the analogical inference to other minds is that put forward by P.F. Strawson. The analogical inference to other minds is, of course, intended to be a solution to the problem of other minds. It is to provide a justification for believing in other minds. Strawson has an argument that this project is doomed from the start (or even before). His claim is that a solution or justification is impossible; ‘the demand for it cannot be coherently stated’.1 It is clear that Strawson’s attack is not confined to the analogical inference to other minds. All arguments to other minds are supposed to fall prey to this onslaught.


Epistemic Justification Distinguishable Individual Analogical Inference Epistemic Guarantee Sceptical Problem 
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  1. Notes to Chapter NineGoogle Scholar
  2. 1.
    P.F. Strawson, Individuals (London: Methuen, 1959) p. 112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 2.
  4. 3.
  5. 4.
    Ibid., p. 106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 5.
  7. 6.
    Ibid., p. 105. A P-predicate is a predicate that applies to persons and ascribes states of consciousness.Google Scholar
  8. 7.
    I understand that neutrinos and quarks are such entities. They were postulated to explain certain (curious) observations. Scientists took some time to work out how they might “detect” these entities.Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    Op. cit., pp. 105–6.Google Scholar
  10. 9.
    Alvin Plantinga, God and Other Minds (Cornell University Press, 1967) pp. 210–11.Google Scholar
  11. 10.
    The matter is complicated by Strawson’s footnote on p. 99, which is where, I take it, Plantinga found his condition on ascription (in terms of having a conception of ‘the appropriate occasions ...’). Unravelling all that would be time-confusing but would not, I think, protect Plantinga. Briefly, having a conception of the appropriate occasions for ascribing is distinct from having a conception of how things would have to be if one were to be able to ascribe.Google Scholar
  12. 11.
    M.C. Bradley, ‘Mr. Strawson and scepticism’, Analysis (1959) pp. 14–19 (p. 15).Google Scholar
  13. 12.
  14. 13.
    Op. cit., p. 101.Google Scholar
  15. 14.
    Ibid., p. 106.Google Scholar
  16. 15.
    In Zak van Straaten (ed.), Philosophical Subjects: Essays presented to P.F. Strawson (Clarendon Press, 1980). Strawson’s reply to Hide Ishiguro’s article is the occasion.Google Scholar
  17. 16.
    Ibid., p. 272.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.La Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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