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Philosophy Colloquium 

 Friday, February 16, 2018

3:00pm-5:30pm in Mackinac Hall BLL-110 (Basement)

Katherine Tullman (GVSU Philosophy)

The Problem of Other Minds: What Problem? Whose Mind?



This paper reimagines the traditional problem of other minds. On a Cartesian view, the problem involves our inability to perceive others’ minds. Similarly, Gilbert Ryle claims that we cannot directly access another’s mind. My own rethinking of the problem of other minds moves beyond bare questions of mentality and accessibility. Instead, I ask whether there are certain groups of people whose minds are systematically misunderstood, or even denied mentality. I argue that there are; not all minds are equally understood. This claim builds off recent work in philosophy and social psychology on epistemic injustice and the role of social categories (gender, race, sexuality, class, ability, etc.) in mental state attribution, or mindreading. I propose the problem of the Other’s mind: the phenomenon of a (relatively) privileged person’s inability or lack of desire to understand the mind of a (relatively) under-privileged person. I begin by motivating this reimagining of the problem of other minds, present two examples of it at play in literature and real life, and examine how theories of mind (Simulation Theory and Theory theory) have difficulty in accounting for it.

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