Solispsim and subjectivity

European Journal of Philosophy 4 (2):220-235 (1996)
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This essay is concerned with solipsism, understood as the extreme sceptical view that I have no knowledge except of my subjective state. A less rough formulation of the view is mooted, inspired by a Quinean combination of naturalism and empiricism. An objection to the resultant position is then considered, based on Putnam’s argument that we are not brains in vats. This objection is first outlined, then pitted against a series of counter-objections. Eventually it is endorsed, but only at the price of exposing the formulation of solipsism in question as not, after all, a satisfactory formulation. This leads to further speculation about the status of solipsism itself. Two of the possibilities that are considered are, firstly, that it is incoherent and, secondly, that it is inexpressible.

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