Date of Award

May 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Edward Hinchman

Committee Members

Joshua Spencer, Robert Schwartz


Communication, Mindreading, Other Minds, Responsibility, Skepticism


The conceptual problem of other minds is over how we can so much as form thoughts or beliefs about (let alone know) mental lives other than our own. What I call the conceptual problem of other conscious minds restricts this question to others’ phenomenally conscious experiences. Past appeals to an individual’s inferential, imaginative, or perceptual faculties all more plausibly presuppose than provide a solution to this problem: such faculties allow us to form thoughts about others’ experiences only if we already have some prior means of doing so (§§2-5). This is not the case with testimony, which I introduce and defend as the most plausible solution to the conceptual problem of other conscious minds (§§6-7). I then try to introduce an analogous conceptual problem over others’ psychological states to see whether testimony too might solve it (§8). Testimony cannot solve what I call the conceptual problem of other cognitive minds—regarding others’ psychological dispositions—but this turns out to be something of a pseudo-problem (§9). What I call the conceptual problem of other people—regarding others’ commitments and values—is a significant problem of other minds (§10), and one for which testimony again seems to be the best solution (§11).

Included in

Epistemology Commons