Instigator / Pro
Points: 7

Metaphysical Solipsism is Most Likely Correct

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After 1 vote the winner is ...
semperfortis
Debate details
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Philosophy
Time for argument
Two weeks
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Open voting
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One week
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Contender / Con
Points: 1
Description
I had to create a new debate, because you can not edit the debate to add a contender after you publish it!
Metaphysical Solipsism: The philosophy of subjective idealism that asserts that nothing exists externally to the mind and that the external, physical world and other people are representatives of the mind and have no independent existence.

No Kritiks
BoP is shared; Con must also provide evidence to show that the resolution is most likely untrue.
R1: Opening arguments
R2: Rebuttals
R3: Rebuttals and defence
R4: Rebuttals/defence (no new arguments)
Round 1
Published:
Thanks, Death23 for accepting the debate.
 
Overview
I intend to affirm the resolution by asserting two arguments within this debate. Firstly, I intend to show that metaphysical solipsism is the most epistemologically parsimonious ontology. Subsequently, I will affirm the resolution by providing an argument for idealism (specifically monistic idealism) which logically entails metaphysical solipsism.
 
== Aff ==

A1. Epistemological Parsimony

Munchhausen Trilemma
This was a thought experiment constructed to demonstrate the seemingly futile task of proving the veracity of any fact or axiom [1]. “Trilemma” refers to three options which represent the three distinct ways we could attempt to prove the truth of any proposition. The first option is the circular option; that is, using the conclusion of an argument as a premise. An example of this is: ‘2 + 2 = 4, because 2+2 =4’. Clearly, this is unsavoury as we can use circular reasoning to prove any proposition imaginable. The second option is the regressive argument, where one proposition is supported by another proposition, which is supported to another… ad infinitum. This option is predicated on a fallacy as there is no foundation of knowledge to end the casual chain of contingency. The third option is the axiomatic argument, which rest upon accepted precepts. This is renowned as the most palatable option, yet it is to assume the veracity of axioms. Thus, despite this option appearing plausible, it lacks the cogent foundation to base knowledge from.
 
This invites the search for an indubitable fact that presupposes all proceeding knowledge. Here, I assert that this indubitable fact is the existence of the mind. As Descartes puts it, cogitio ergo sum (I think therefore I am) [2]. Here, it is postulated that the only certain and irrefutable fact is that one’s own mind exists, as one cannot doubt the mind’s existence, because to doubt the mind would entail the existence of a doubter (you).
 
However, the external reality which is said to exist outwit the mind does not share the same certainty. We perceive the external world through various forms of qualia (senses including touch, taste, smell, sight etc.) [3], however there is no fact which corroborates the existence of an external reality; we can be sure that our qualia exists within the mind, but there is no justifiable claim to assert that qualia represents anything truly external.
 

Occam's Razor
This is a form of ontological parisomony which deems a competing theory a priori most likely if that theory has less ontological commitments than the other theory [4]. If two theories X and Y have the same ontological commitments, but X is ontologically committed to Z and Y is not, it would deem Y as more parsimonious than X.
 
Thus, this argument is frameworked by the fact that metaphysical solipsism posits the fewest ontological assumptions. To promote an alternate ontology would be to assume that qualia represents a physical reality, external to the mind. It has been shown that such a fact is dubious and unjustifiable via the Trilemma, thus metaphysical solipsism ought to be deemed a priori most likely.


 
A2. Monistic Idealism

Here, I aim to establish monistic idealism with the following logical argument:
 
P1: The mind and the non-mind are distinct
P2:The mind cannot interact with the non-mind
P3: IF P1&P2, then it is likely the non-mind doesn’t exist
P4: IF P3, then it is likely metaphysical solipsism is true
C: It is likely metaphysical solipsism is true
 
Premise One
I assert this premise’s veracity is contingent upon Leibniz Law of Identity of Indiscernibles. This law dictates that for two entities to be considered equal, they must have all of their properties in common [5].  Thus, it is clear that the two are distinct axiomatically, as they have distinct properties.
 
Premise Two
The cogency of this premise relies on the notion of the incoherency of Pluralism, that is the metaphysical doctrine which professes the multiplicity of substances [6].
A contention to solipsism would be that both the mind and external reality exists and the two interact with each other as a conjunct via the various forms of qualia we possess. This begs the question, how can two fundamentally different substances interact with each other? This would be similar to something that has no physical properties i.e an aberration or a ghost being able to interact with reality. Clearly, there ought to be a third substance to allow interaction  between the mind and the non-mind. However, there is an absence of evidence for this third substance.
 
Premise Three
This is valid as it has been shown that if the non-mind were to exist it would be irreducible to the mental and it would be incoherent to assert that the two can interact, as it is analogous to a ghost being able to move objects, open doors or do anything else to interact with reality. Moreover, since it has been proven that it is certain the mind exists, it would entail that the non-mind does not exist, for the reasons provided in the second premise.
 
Premise Four
Since it has been shown that it is likely the non-mind doesn’t exist, but it is indubitable that the mind does exist, the likelihood of metaphysical solipsism logically entails.
 
Conclusion
Hence, the conclusion coherently follows from the premises.
 
 
Conclusion
I have provided two arguments to affirm the resolution. Firstly, I postulated that metaphysical solipsism is the most preferable ontology in regards to epistemology – this is true due to Occam’s Razor – solipsism is simply the least ontologically committed ontology. Secondly, I affirmed the resolution by establishing monistic idealism. I provided that the mind and the non-mind are two distinct substances, but certainty only applies to the former. I professed that it would be logically incoherent for the two to interact with each other and would logically require a third substance to act as a medium for interaction; yet evidence of such doesn’t exist. As such, the likelihood of metaphysical solipsism is entailed from both arguments, thus successfully upholding the resolution.

Over to Con.
 
 
 
References
 







Published:
Resolution: Metaphysical solipsism ("MS") is most likely correct
 
MS is the notion that one's mind is the only thing that exists. There are notions similar to MS like the idea that we're living within a computer-simulation (e.g. "The Matrix") or that we're actually dreaming brains in vats. These similar notions don't deny the existence of an objective reality; they merely deny that what is commonly understood to be reality is the true reality. MS goes further than these other notions - MS denies the existence of any objective reality. If you ask a metaphysical solipsist what happens if a tree falls in the forest and he isn't there to observe it, then he will answer that the tree makes no sound - Even if someone else is there to hear it. Not only does the tree make no sound - The tree never falls in the first place because no objective reality exists outside of his mind. This idea is the subject of this debate. I now present arguments which show that MS is most likely incorrect.
 
Arguments against MS:
 
1. MS isn't consistent with observation. The following are observations which aren't consistent with MS:
 
a) The products of other minds
 
i. There are things which by their nature required thought or calculation to create. For example, literary works or mathematical computations. We observed that these things exist yet we have no recollection of doing any mental work to create these things. For example, the content of this website or the chess moves of an opponent. We can tell when our minds are working and when they aren't. A central tenet of MS is that only one mind exists and nothing else exists outside of that mind. Yet, somehow, without the mind doing any mental work, mental products are being created. This observation implies that something other than that one mind is doing the necessary creative work.
 
b) A lack of consistency between mind and reality
 
i. Let us suppose for the moment that MS is correct - That no objective reality exists outside of one's mind. Mind and reality would then be one and the same. If that were true, then one would expect the mind and reality to share certain qualities. To illustrate - Consider that when dream (or fantasize while awake) the experiences are the product of the mind and thus share the qualities of the mind - The content of those experiences aren't bound by natural law as reality is. These experiences can be fantastic and nonsensical. Yet, reality does not behave like that at all.
 
ii. For example, minds are forgetful but reality is not. The location of personal items are forgotten frequently, but I'm unaware of a single instance where reality seems to have forgotten anything. The sun has never forgotten to rise, nor has the moon ever forgotten to have that distinct cratered pattern on its face. It's the same every time. We, in fact, write things down because we know that our minds may forget but reality will not forget - What's written on paper reliably remains as it was written. What's stored within our minds does not.
 
iii. Consider also that it is uncommon for minds to make mistakes, but the occurrence of "mistakes" in reality are either uncommon or non-existent. The type of "mistake" I'm referring to would be an observation in reality which flies in the face of natural laws - An observation which clearly cannot have any rational explanation and which would cause one to question reality itself - For example, suppose you turned a corner and expected to see what was ordinarily around that corner but instead you saw what was around an entirely different corner. To get an idea of what I'm getting at - Consider the "deja vu" scene in the movie "The Matrix" - (which isn't too far from the topic) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfEuxRDYiyc&t=4s - The cat moves past twice and this is a "glitch" within the matrix. The computer which was simulating the matrix made a mistake which manifested as the cat. Our minds do make mistakes, but I have never observed any manifestation of that type of mistake within reality.
 
iv. Consider that minds lack the details that reality possesses. Recall or imagine speaking with someone familiar to you while sitting in a living room. You hear the voice. You see the face. Continue looking with your mind's eye in this scenario - Now look at the floor underneath you, the walls, the smells. Your mind has to do quite a bit of imagining to fill in all of the details. Yet, when you actually are doing this very thing, all of the details are readily available without any imagining necessary. However, the fact that the dreams and the mind's eye (two things which we know are of the mind) are easily distinguishable from reality.
 
v. To reiterate - We know that dreams and the mind's eye are products of the minds and one and the same with the mind. We have observed that dreams and the mind's eye share qualities of the mind. If MS were correct then reality would also be one and the same with the mind just as dreams and the mind's eye are, and consequently reality should thus share the qualities of the mind just as dreams and the mind's eye do. Yet, we have observed that reality does not have those qualities. This observation is not consistent with MS being correct.
 
 
2. The existence of an objective reality is more likely than MS being correct
 
If an objective reality exists, then MS is incorrect because a central tenet of MS is that no objective reality exists. There are competing theories which are consistent with observation where MS fails to be consistent with observation. For example, one theory would be that we exist within a simulated reality (e.g. "The Matrix"). This would provide a source for the mental work required for creative works, with either a computer doing the required work or other minds connected to the simulation. This would also explain why reality (or what is commonly understood to be reality) lacks consistency with our own minds - Reality would be generated by something other than our minds and would not be one and the same with our minds. There is, of course, the traditional explanation that we exist and live our lives in the real world. This theory similarly does not suffer from the observational problems of MS.

 
The lack of consistency of MS with observation and superior competing theories make MS unlikely to be true.
 
Over to Pro.
Round 2
Published:
I thank my computer-simulated opponent for their response.
 
== Rebuttals ==
Neg
Con’s opening argument is synthesized with a lot of  “intuitive observation” and consists of few tenable a priori or a posteriori postulates . If MS were an incoherent ontology it would be because it is either internally incoherent or externally constrained [1]. Therefore, non-existence is attributed when “something” is in violation of a priori truths, or a posteriori observations. For example, the concept of a “squared circled” is internally incoherent as it inherently oxymoronic as it is in violation with other truth-bearing assertions. Moreover, the proposition “semperfortis is dead” might be an internally consistent proposition, yet it is externally constrained by the nature of reality providing that semperfortis is actually alive. With this said, Con’s opening argument doesn’t provide a substantial argument that MS is “internally incoherent”, nor “externally constrained”. As aforementioned, he posits many “intuitive observations” to why MS would seem illogical, but doesn’t show it is incoherent a priori.  However, my arguments are a priori justifications of the ontology of MS, for this reason, my arguments should take priority.
 
1.       MS isn’t consistent with observation.
a)       The products of other minds

Con effectively asserts:
P1: There exists things which require thought or calculation to exist which we cannot remember doing “mental work” to create
P2: If one cannot remember doing “mental work” to create these things, it implies there must be something else to do it.
C: There exists something other than the mind
 
Without even attacking the cogency of the premises, the conclusion would entail either dualism or substance pluralism; none of which Con has provided metaphysical justification for. 
Moreover, the second premise is refuted in light that there exists different layers to consciousness.  For example, there exists the subconscious which is a part of the mind which is not focally aware, yet influences one’s actions and feelings [2][3]. Hence, it could be argued that all of the imaginative capacity that one doesn’t “recollect” doing are done subconsciously. Taking dreams as instances, I cannot “recall” creating or imagining the dreams, but it is my mind that does all of the “creative work” for them. Why is it that when I am dreaming I have the capacity to recreate a full reality, but somehow my mind would be incapable of imagining all of reality as a whole?
 
b)      A lack of consistency between mind and reality
i)                    The mind and reality don’t share certain qualities
Con gives an example of how natural laws do not pertain to the ‘dream world’. But how does this pertain to the mind as a whole? Con is essentially asserting an argument that natural laws are grounded in “external reality”, but provides no reason why natural laws cannot be reduced to the mental. Dreams do not represent the entire mind; dreams are as nonsensical and fantastic to a metaphysical solipsist as they are to any other metaphysical doctrine. This doesn't show laws are irreducible to the mind. 
 
ii)                   Minds are forgetful
This would be true if and only if the mind “as a whole” is forgetful. Con cannot continue to extrapolate from specific scopes of the mind. One cannot deduce the mind as a whole to have the exact properties of its parts; as such there would be no subsets of anything; all invertebrates would have backbones; all arachnids would have arms and legs; and all reptiles would birth live young. Clearly, we cannot extrapolate the properties of a subset to a superset, as such would be absurd. Extrapolations are useful if what you are extrapolating from is observed to be “a powerful statement” [4], thus having relatively grounded veracity to make testable predictions from. However, sans an observation of this capacity, Con would be delving into an unsubstantial form of abductive explanation or “inference to best explanation”. However, in light of my previously highlighted fact that there are layers to consciousness, thi tremendously reduces the accuracy of this extrapolation.
As aforementioned, there are layers to consciousness; of which indicate that memory is not a single faculty and that our subconscious mind has a great capacity for memory [5]. Moreover, in the book ‘Cognitive Psychology and Information Processing” by Roy Lachman, Janet Lachman, and Earl Butterfield, it is elucidated that our conscious mind accounts for only a small percentage of our total mental activity. The book illustrates:

“Most of what we do goes on unconsciously. It is the exception, not the rule, when thinking is conscious, but by its very nature, conscious thought seems the only sort. It is not the only sort; it is the minority.” (page 207) [6]

This innately rebukes the accuracy of Con’s assumption, since the conscious mind is an unfair representation of the entire mind.
 
iii)                 Mistakes
Con offers to the audience that reality doesn’t “make mistakes” and later defines a “mistake” as a physical contradiction to natural laws. Firstly, this argument is unsound because natural laws do not co-exist in harmony; they often refute each other. Physicists were desperately trying to find evidence for string theory to try and reconcile the compatibility between relativity and quantum mechanics. One could offer that each theory is a “mistake” as many factors of them contradict each other. Newtonian physics offer successful predictions for macroscopic entities with relativity small velocities, yet offers infinities with particles of small masses and when objects travel greater than around 0.3c. At this scale, special relativity would only apply for inertial frames of reference; and general relativity for non-inertial frames of reference. However, relativity on balance inherently clashes with the predictions made in quantum mechanics, especially with Aspect-type experiments utilizing Bell’s inequalities [7]. The empirical results of the experiments showed the instantaneous transmission of information through entangled particles, because no matter the physical distance between two quantum systems, when one system is observed to collapse to a specific chirality (spin) its entangled particle, which could be suspended a potentially infinite distance will “instantaneously” become anti-correlated.  This is in distinct violation of predictions made in relativity; the principle of locality assumes that if two objects, X and Y are to causally affect each other, it must be from the mediation of space-time [8]. If Con’s argument was correct, we would expect all natural laws to exist in harmony, yet we have been stagnant in reconciling relativity and quantum mechanics for around 100 years now.
 
iv)                 Lack of detail
This doesn’t hold much substance. Con states that dreams and the mind’s eye are “easily distinguishable from reality”, yet the majority of the time one is unaware that they are dreaming – as only 50% of people can say that they have “lucid dreamed” at least once in their lives [9]. Con’s position would hold weight if and only if lucid dreaming would occur at least the majority of the time.
 
v)                   Summary
Prima facie acceptance of these arguments wouldn’t necessarily extend to the mind as a whole. Con makes a lot of unwarranted extrapolation – assuming that specific subsets of the mind either transfer their properties to the superset, or inherit those properties from the superset (which he hasn’t demonstrated).  Con would need to show why something that might be true for one subset of the mind, applies to the whole mind. Or, he ought to demonstrate why the mind as a whole already shares those properties.
 
 
2.       The existence of an objective reality is more likely than MS being correct
All of these competing theories are deemed less parsimonious via Occam’s Razor. For example, a ‘Simulated World Hypothesis’ (SWH) would have far greater ‘ad hoc’ assumptions than MS. An ‘ad hoc’ assumption is an ontological extension which prevents a theory from being falsified [10]. To assume the veracity of SWH, one would need the ad hoc assumption that there exists an intelligent species with the technology able to create an artificial reality. Since MS makes the least ontological assumptions, it remains more parsimonious than these competing hypotheses.  Moreover, I have shown that the “observational inconsistencies” are misrepresentations of the entire mind, thus they hold no weight in preferring any other competing hypothesis with MS in epistemological grounds.


 
References
[1] https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/spinoza-modal/
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subconscious
[3] Google ‘define subconscious’
[4] http://www.batesville.k12.in.us/physics/PhyNet/AboutScience/Inductive.html
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4355270/
[6] R Lachman, J Lachman, E Butterfield, “Cognitive Psychology and Information Processing”
[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspect%27s_experiment
[8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_locality
[9] https://books.google.es/books?id=90Vh8wUThAgC&pg=PA572&lpg=PA572&dq=1988,+Snyder+%26+Gackenback+conducted+a+survey&source=bl&ots=xDwoID0P8D&sig=ACfU3U0GuAkvDlBqGWaKR11ompCyKhphNA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiQ09edzrbjAhXGxYUKHZeTAkAQ6AEwAHoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false
[10] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hoc_hypothesis




Published:
Rebuttals:
 
Re: "A1. Epistemological Parsimony" -
 
I am in agreement with Pro that the existence of the mind is a most certain and irrefutable fact. I also agree that "the external reality which is said to exist [without] the mind does not share the same certainty."
 
However, Pro goes on to claim that "there is no fact which corroborates the existence of an external reality" and that "there is no justifiable claim to assert that qualia represent anything truly external." Here I disagree with Pro. The fact that we directly observe reality with our senses corroborates its existence. Further, certain observations of reality justify the claim that it is an external rather than internal reality. Specifically, the products of other minds and the lack of consistency between reality and the mind, as I put forth in my opening case.
 
Pro argues that ontologically parsimonious positions are more likely. Pro alleges that "[MS] posits the fewest ontological assumptions" because "an alternate ontology would [...] assume that qualia represent a physical reality, external to the mind." But MS does not "posit the fewest ontological assumptions" than an "alternate ontology". MS assumes that it is not true that "qualia represent a physical reality, external to the mind" while an "an alternate ontology would [...] assume that qualia represent a physical reality, external to the mind." Stated differently, MS posits that no objective reality exists, while competing theories assume the opposite - That an objective reality does exist. With respect to the existence or non-existence of an objective reality, MS and competing theories both make a claim one way or the other. MS and competing theories are consequently on an even-footing in terms of "ontological parsimony" when it comes to assumptions about the existence or non-existence of reality. Pro's argument fails because Pro's allegation that "[MS] posits the fewest ontological assumptions" is a false premise. More clearly:
 
Consider the following statements:
 
Statement A: "The mind exists."
Statement B: Some "qualia represent a physical reality, external to the mind." (from Pro's text)
Statement C: "An objective reality exists"
 
The common view posits the following:
 
1. Statement A is true.
2. Statement B is true.
3. Statement C is true.
 
MS posits the following:
 
1. Statement A is true.
2. Statement B is not true.
3. Statement C is not true.
 
A "simulation hypothesis" (e.g. "the matrix"; "brain in a vat") posits the following:
 
1. Statement A is true
2. Statement B is not true
3. Statement C is true
 
None of these positions are more "ontologically parsimonious" than the other because all have specific ontological positions as to the existence of the mind, the existence of an objective reality, and the nature of qualia. They are on an even-footing. A truly superior position in terms of ontological parsimony would be one which claims only that "Statement A is true" and takes no position as to the truth of statements B or C. Such a position would be more likely to be correct than MS or an alternate ontology because the truth of such a position wouldn't be contingent on the objective truth of statement B nor C. To illustrate:
 
A truly "ontologically parsimonious" position:
 
1. Statement A is true
 
This position is more likely to be correct than the other positions because, unlike the other positions, whether statements B and/or C are true or not true has no impact on whether or not this position is correct.
 
Re: "A2. Monistic Idealism"
 
The gist of Pros' argument here is that MS is superior because it avoids the mind-body problem. (Overview: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind-body_problem ) If the mind is all there is, then there is no mind-body problem because the body (and everything else) doesn't exist.
 
Any advantage MS may have by avoiding the mind-body problem is outweighed by the unavoidable logical problems associated with denying an objective reality. For example, the lack of any explanation for why and/or how qualia representing reality came about and the lack of consistency of MS with observation. Competing explanations do not suffer from these problems and are superior to MS despite the mind-body problem. Some competing explanations do not suffer from the mind-body problem at all (e.g. physicalism).
 
Re: The products of other minds
 
Pro now asserts the existence of different layers of consciousness and the subconscious and attributes the generation of qualia to these "layers". This mental work is supposedly being done without any awareness of the mind actually doing it.
 
Pro's argument here is largely self-defeating. These explanations for observations go against the grain of MS. Strictly speaking, the scope of the "mind" as contemplated by MS doesn't encompass the subconscious and other aspects of the human mind other than which we're not directly aware of. This is because MS is generally denies the existence of what isn't supported by direct - superdirect - observation. It's not logically consistent to acknowledge the existence of only what is superdirectly observed (i.e. the mind itself) and then to posit the existence of things which aren't supported by that same type of observation. This is precisely what Pro is doing - Asserting the existence of things which aren't directly observed as ad hoc explanations for MS's lack of consistency with observation. This explanation should be rejected.
 
Re: A lack of consistency between mind and reality
 
My argument was generally as follows:
 
If MS is correct, then reality would be of the mind. If reality were of the mind, then reality would likely be like the mind. We have observed that reality is not like the mind. Therefore it is unlikely that MS is correct.
 
Pro does not dispute the observation that reality is not like the mind. Rather than accepting the implications of the observation, Pro's response is to assert that reality represents an aspect of the mind which is uniquely unlike the rest of the mind. This explanation is unlikely to be correct because there is no reason why such an aspect of the mind would be unlike the rest. My argument was a simple and legitimate generalization.
 
Re: The existence of an objective reality is more likely than MS being correct
 
Please refer to my rebuttal to Pro's Occam's Razor // parsimony argument.
Round 3
Published:
Format Violation
I ought to point out that from the description of the debate, the format is as follows:
R1: Opening arguments
R2: Rebuttals
R3: Rebuttals and defence
R4: Rebuttals/defence (no new arguments)

Con has defended his opening case in the second round, meaning I will have one less round to defend my own opening arguments.
 
 
==  Aff  ==

A1. Epistemological Parsimony

It is important to note that Con concedes:

i)              The mind’s existence is the only indubitable fact
ii)             That external to the mind does not share the same certainty as that of the mind


Furthermore, Con states:

The fact that we directly observe reality with our senses corroborates its [reality reducing to non-mind’s] existence”

Con affirms the veracity of this with the claims that MS “lacks consistency” and because of “the products of other minds”. It should be noted that Con has dropped the argument that his case uses mere intuitive reasoning, rather than utilizing a priori or a posteriori evidence to refute MS. I argued that my a priori / a posteriori arguments for MS should take precedence over intuitive reasoning and it was dropped by Con.

 
1.1  Ontological Parsimony
Here, Con misinterprets what an ontological commitment is, by assuming non-existence as a predicate – famously refuted by Immanuel Kant [1]. He asserts that all of the competing theories are “equally parsimonious” because MS entails the non-existence of an external reality. Something is an ontological commitment, by definition, ‘if and only if’ it entails the existence of something. The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy stipulates and better describes what ontological parsimony entails:

What does it mean to say that one theory is more ontologically parsimonious than another? The basic notion of ontological parsimony is quite straightforward, and is standardly cashed out in terms of Quine's concept of ontological commitment. A theory, T, is ontologically committed to Fs if and only if T entails that F's exist“ [2]

Thus, Con’s rebuttal is extraneous to the true intentions of ontological parsimony. Revaluating Con’s propositions it depicts MS as the most parsimonious ontology:

“Statement A: "The mind exists."
Statement B: Some "qualia represent a physical reality, external to the mind." (from Pro's text)
Statement C: "An objective reality exists"
 
The common view posits the following:
 
1. Statement A is true.
2. Statement B is true.
3. Statement C is true.
 
MS posits the following:
 
1. Statement A is true.
2. Statement B is not true.
3. Statement C is not true.
 
A "simulation hypothesis" (e.g. "the matrix"; "brain in a vat") posits the following:
 
1. Statement A is true
2. Statement B is not true
3. Statement C is true”

Thus, the veracity of A1 is upheld.  

 
A2. Monistic Idealism

Con actually provides no refutation to A2, but offers that it [MS] “is outweighed by the unavoidable logical problems associated with denying an objective reality”. It ought to be restated that these “unavoidable logical problems” are neither internal inconsistency (i.e false via a priori) and neither external constraint (i.e false via a posteriori). Con’s arguments are wholly intuitive; it is prudent to consider that intuition alone is not very compelling -- intuition contradicts virtually all quantum physics and relativity, but does this mean they are unlikely to be true? It is unintuitive to think that an inertial-frame of reference > 0.3c experiences time more slowly than an observer on Earth, but this does not supersede the physical evidence that suggests it’s true.

Moreover, Con opines that “competing theories don’t suffer from these problems” e.g “the lack of explanation for why and/or how qualia representing reality came about and the lack of consistency of MS with observation”. Firstly, the former isn’t exclusive to MS; it would pertain to every doctrine. Secondly, Con states that these problems “outweigh” the mind-body problem but provides no reasoning for it. I could retaliate and say, these problems simply do not outweigh the mind-body problem which MS rectifies.


 
== Neg ==

C1. The Products of Other Minds

Con drops the contention that prima facie his argument entails doctrines that entail the multiplicity of substances, which Con still hasn’t provided evidence for.
Furthermore, Con dismisses that there exists different layers to consciousness e.g the subconscious, because it isn’t supported by “direct – superdirect – observation”. This is unsourced and begs the question to what “superdirect” observation is? Con’s argument is self-refuting, observe:

P1:The mind is all that one can be certain to exist (accepted by Con)
P2:The subconscious mind, is of the mind (by definition)
C:The subconscious mind certainly exists (P1, P2 Modus Ponens)
*Why should a Metaphysical Solipsist reject something that is of the mind, when only the mind is what a Metaphysical Solipsist believes in?*
 
Con misrepresents MS. He states it is acceptable for a Metaphysical Solipsist to “acknowledge the existence of what is superdirectly observed (i.e the mind itself)” but then contradicts himself by saying that observing the subconscious is “positing the existence of things which aren’t supported by the same type of observation”.  To a metaphysical solipsist *everything observable is the mind*, by definition. MS acquires knowledge the exact same way as any other doctrine i.e a priori or a posteriori, except that whatever the knowledge is, MS posits that it is ontologically reducible to the mind [3]. For example, if a Metaphysical Solipsist were to look through a telescope and see Venus, they would conclude that “Venus empirically exists (like any other doctrine would)” & “Venus is reducible to the mind”.    
       
The subconscious mind is not incongruent with the definition of MS provided; Con would need to substantiate his claims with sources to show that my argument “goes against the grain of MS” and would need to define what “superdirect observation” is before this argument has any efficacy.
 


C2. Lack of Consistency Between Mind and Reality

i)              The mind and reality don’t share certain qualities
Dropped by Con.
 
ii)             Minds are forgetful
Dropped by Con.
 
iii)            Mistakes
Dropped by Con.
 
iv)            Lack of detail
Dropped by Con.
 
==

Con has not addressed any of these individual points, but simply dismisses my argument about the subconscious without evidence. Specifically, he states:

Rather than accepting the implications of the observation, Pro's response is to assert that reality represents an aspect of the mind which is uniquely unlike the rest of the mind. This explanation is unlikely to be correct because there is no reason why such an aspect of the mind would be unlike the rest.

Con continues to state that logical inconsistencies are ubiquitous in MS, but drops my contentions to every single one of his ‘inconsistencies’. I ask Con to address b) ii) in my last round where I extensively refuted the fact that extrapolating in this way is unsubstantial.
 



C3. Competing Theories

My clarification of ontological parsimony nullifies this contention.
 
Over to Con.
 
 



References



Published:
Re: Format Violation
 
The format violation was unintentional. I forgot about the rule. I won't defend my case this round but will next round. Pro now has the same number of rounds to defend his own opening arguments.
 
Re: A1 Epistemological Parsimony
 
Pro has restated what I wrote here. I'm not sure for what purpose. Pro did insert brackets in to one of my quotes - saying "[reality reducing to non-mind's]". I don't know what Pro meant by that.
 
Pro has stated that I dropped his argument that my "case uses mere intuitive reasoning, rather than utilizing a priori or a posteriori evidence to refute MS. I argued that my a priori / a posteriori arguments for MS should take precedence over intuitive reasoning". My response to this is fairly straight-forward: I have already offered a posteriori evidence (i.e. observations). These observations were offered in my opening case. They were the lack of consistency between mind and reality and the products of other minds.
 
MS is not falsifiable. There is no observation nor reasoning which can disprove MS with absolute certainty, but it is not necessary to disprove MS for me to win this debate. Due to the wording of the resolution, it is sufficient to show that MS is not likely to be correct. Using inductive reasoning, such as extrapolations, is appropriate. To that extent, observations which show MS to be unlikely are relevant a posteriori evidence.
 
Re: 1.1 Ontological Parsimony
 
MS posits that a single mind exists and that nothing else exists. Pro's position is that reality is but a dream of a single mind. Pro has no evidence indicating that a single mind is capable of generating everything. Pro points toward mentally created pseudo-realities such as dreams and day-dreams as evidence, but these phenomena do not support Pro's claim. These mentally created pseudo-realities fall far short of actual reality. They lack the full spectrum of sensory input; lack the detail and complexities of the real world; and lack the complex products of other creative minds, etc. There is no evidence showing that a single mind can do what Pro claims it can.
 
Yet such simplicity is merely ostensible. For if God or the mind really did it, then the "How was it done?" becomes . Granted the existence of God isn't as evident as the existence of the mind. However, replace the X with the existence of something which is largely undisputed, the vacuum of space, for example, and you may easily imagine the inevitable complexities which cause such "X did it" explanations to be merely ostensibly simplistic, but not actually.
 
Regarding Pro's contention that asserting non-existence doesn't count for purposes of ontological parsimony: Such a position is weak and is refuted by his own source. Pro says that saying that something doesn't exist doesn't count for purposes of ontological parsimony. Pro is wrong. Saying that something doesn't exist does count as an "ontological commitment".
 
See here:
 
The basic notion of ontological parsimony is quite straightforward, and is standardly cashed out in terms of Quine's concept of ontological commitment. A theory, T, is ontologically committed to Fs if and only if T entails that F's exist (Quine 1981, pp. 144–4). If two theories, T1 and T2, have the same ontological commitments except that T2 is ontologically committed to Fs and T1 is not, then T1 is more parsimonious than T2.
 
 
It is important to know what it means to "exist" within ontology. The Pythagorean theorem exists as an idea in people's minds. Santa Clause exists as an idea in people's minds too, but Santa Clause does not exist as a real, concrete and objective thing in actual reality. It is the former, more expansive sense of the word "exist" that is used. To illustrate:
 
Are there nonexistent objects, i.e., objects that do not exist? Some examples often cited are: Zeus, Pegasus, Sherlock Holmes, Vulcan (the hypothetical planet postulated by the 19th century astronomer Le Verrier), the perpetual motion machine, the golden mountain, the fountain of youth, the round square, etc. Some important philosophers have thought that the very concept of a nonexistent object is contradictory (Hume) or logically ill-formed (Kant, Frege), while others (Leibniz, Meinong, the Russell of Principles of Mathematics) have embraced it wholeheartedly.
 
One of the reasons why there are doubts about the concept of a nonexistent object is this: to be able to say truly of an object that it doesn’t exist, it seems that one has to presuppose that it exists, for doesn’t a thing have to exist if we are to make a true claim about it?
 
 
[...] what a speaker means when she utters the sentence ‘Ronald McDonald does not exist’ is not the false proposition that that sentence expresses but instead the true proposition that (the fictional character) Ronald McDonald is not a real person or is not concrete. Indeed, this is suggested by the natural amendment, ‘‘Ronald McDonald does not exist; he's a creation of advertisement!’’ On this view, then, there are no genuinely true singular negative existentials. All meaningful singular existentials are true and their negations false. We mistakenly take some singular negative existentials to be true because we conflate or do not sharply distinguish existing from being concrete.
 
 
Pro is conflating "exists" with "real" or "concrete". In an ontological context, MS asserts that objective reality is not real nor concrete, not that it doesn't exist. MS posits that objective reality, in fact, does exist as an idea. This is important because this is the true and correct meaning of "exist" with Pro's sources. Objective reality must exist in as an idea in order that something may be said about it. More fundamentally, this interpretation is superior than Pro's because it fits well with the sense of ontological commitments and ontological parsimony:
 
the notion of ontological commitment for theories is a simple matter. Theories have truth conditions. These truth conditions tell us how the world must be in order for the theory to be true; they make demands on the world.
 
 
Given the foregoing, Pro's contention that MS's tenet that objective reality is not a real nor concrete thing makes an incredible demand on the world - A fundamental demand on the nature of the entire universe. Yet, Pro is apparently stuck with the untenable position that a theory which asserts that objective reality is not real nor concrete makes no demand on the world. This is a clear contradiction. Pro is mistaken and must withdraw this contention if he is to maintain credibility.
 
 
Re: A2 Monistic Idealism
 
(Note: Regarding "intuitive" arguments etc; see my discussion last paragraph under heading "Re: A1 Epistemological Parsimony" in this round)
 
There is strong evidence that the mind is either a physical thing or that the mind is contingent on the brain. That evidence is the neural correlates of consciousness. See, e.g.:
 
An array of radio receivers, connected to electrodes in contact with the occipital pole of the right cerebral hemisphere, has been implanted into a 52-year-old blind patient. By giving appropriate radio signals, the patient can be caused to experience sensations of light in the left half of the visual field.
 

This is merely illustrative. There is no evidence that mind can happen without the brain, and this subject has been studied extensively. So certain are we of this fact that one of our legal definitions for death is as follows:
 
An individual who has sustained [...] irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem, is dead.
 
 
If idealism (of which MS is a subset) were true then there would be no reason for the existence of the neural correlates of consciousness. The existence of the correlates suggests that the mind is contingent on an objective reality rather than the opposite being true.
 
Further evidence of the mind being contingent are the existence of evolved psychological mechanisms - hunger caused by low blood sugar, pain in response to injury, romantic jealousy begotten by infidelity, etc. Taken as a whole, these psychological mechanisms cause people to act in a way which would increase the probability that a person's genes would pass on to the next generation in a paleolithic environment. The collection of pscyhological mechanisms suggest that the nature of the mind was created by // selected for by natural processes during the formative period of human evolution. The mind is therefore likely contingent on an objective reality. This squares with what I have said previously regarding the neural correlates of consciousness. Both pieces of evidence suggest that it is the mind that is contingent on reality, not the other way around as would as with monistic idealism (MS is a subset of monistic idealism).
 
Relating this to Pro's argument and being a bit more formal, Pro's P2 is false ("mind cannot interact with the non-mind"; "how can two fundamentally different substances interact with each other? This would be similar to something that has no physical properties i.e an aberration or a ghost being able to interact with reality.") Occasionally there are observations which are extremely difficult to accept but are spooky-true. For example, those Pro draws attention to such as time dilation. These defy our notions, but they are observed nonetheless. The mind indeed can interact with the non-mind. It has been observed. If we are to accept Pro's argument then we retreat to an even spookier position - Pro rassles with how two fundamentally different substances can interact. Yet, has Pro answered the question of how one single mind can create all there is?

Round 4
Published:
== Aff ==

A1. Epistemological Parsimony

Intuitive reasoning & a priori / a posteriori
Con states that he wouldn’t defend his case this round, but defends this argument that was not stated in my opening case, but as a rebuttal to his case in the second round. I wouldn’t have minded, but Con has only touched on parts of the argument and has dropped the fact that intuitive reasoning is unsubstantial and has dropped my analogy of relativity and QM.

Con argues that his argument is a posteriori as it is inductive and uses extrapolations. Whilst it is true that it is a posteriori, I was specifically referring to an a posteriori observation that would externally constrain MS as noted in the second round.  There is a difference in weight between an a posteriori observation that deems something as unintuitive vs an a posteriori observation that deems something cannot exist.  If I observe that there is “only a shoe in a box”, this observation externally constrains the notion of “an empty box”.  In this context, the direct observation of different substances (that the mind and non-mind exist) would externally constrain MS (as MS posits that only the mind exists).  This is why I asserted Con’s opening argument is lacklustre, because the a posteriori observations, if true, would only show that MS is an unintuitive concept, like infinity, or quantum mechanics. Con’s argument does not show that anything other than the mind has to exist, nor has he shown that MS is logically contradictory.  I have repeatedly stated that this form of prima facie intuition is unsubstantial, because almost all physical and mathematical concepts are unintuitive – this is yet to be responded to by Con.  
 
1.1   Ontological Parsimony
Pro begins by asserting:

“Pro has no evidence indicating that a single mind is capable of generating everything”

Dreams that I am unable to distinguish from objective reality clearly demonstrates that the mind is capable of this.  Con contends that dreams are so unlike reality, yet *drops* my point of lucid dreaming.  If dreams were so easily distinguishable from reality, why is it that only 50% of people can ever say they have lucid dreamed? This was dropped by Con in the second round.


Subconscious Pertaining to MS
Further addressing Con’s dismissal of my contentions of the subconscious, no matter what definition or interpretation of MS Con, or anyone else has, unless it contradicts the interpretation in the debate description, it is to be rejected as sound argumentation.  Since the subconscious mind does not contradict the definition of MS I provided in the description (a definition Con agreed to by accepting the debate) it is a strawman.  Thus, my affirmations regarding the subconscious ought to be considered with veracity.  There are many subsets of MS which include the subconscious, like absolute solipsism [1].


Semantics of “exist”
Con essentially states MS asserts that objective reality is “not concrete” or “real”, not that it “doesn’t exist”.   

Con’s quote regarding non-existence is incorrectly interpreted --  it would be true that “Objective reality must exist as an idea in order that something may be said about it” if and only if it is a coherent concept.  If MS were true and only the mind exists, then “objective reality” would be an absurdity like a “squared circle”.  Incoherent concepts have no meaning outside of the linguistic ascription placed on them.  For example, I could state “asdf” exists as an idea because to even talk about “asdf” presupposes an idea of it – however outside of the arbitrary name I ascribed to it there is no meaningful concept.  An apple as a concept would be a red or green edible pome fruit – the existence of an apple would be an entity that instantiates the properties of the concept.  If MS were true, your notion of “objective reality” would actually be of the mind – no-one would know what non-mind looks like or what its properties are, similar to how no-one can imagine a colour that they’ve never seen before, or can imagine what a ‘squared circle’ looks like.  This is why they are exempt because they exist as purely fictitious, pre-conceived notions of the imagination, which is limited to metaphysical possibility (as one cannot imagine a metaphysical impossibility).  If MS is true then objective reality (i.e material) is a metaphysical impossibility, akin to a married bachelor, or a squared circle. Even semantically, this does not entail any form of existence of “objective reality”.

 

Non-Existence as an Ontological Commitment

Con completely misunderstands the intentions of these sources.  Firstly, if my source refuted my argument, why does it directly assert that a monistic ontology like materialism is more parsimonious than an ontology affirming two substances, like Dualism? Observe:

“Thus Cartesian dualism, for example, is less qualitatively parsimonious than materialism because it is committed to two broad kinds of entity (mental and physical) rather than one”  [3]

Moreover, from the same source, it states:

 Unrestricted Occam's Razor favors monism over dualism, and nominalism over platonism”

This is because an ontological commitment is evidently the positive claim of existence.  This is often described of how many kinds of entity a theory is committed to.  Con references truth conditions that make demands on the world –  this is elaborated on and is clearly illustrated to convey positive ontological claims -- described here:

“Sometimes, perhaps always, they demand of the world that certain entities or kinds of entity exist. The ontological commitments of a theory, then, are just the entities or kinds of entity that must exist in order for the theory to be true." [4]

Moreover, the notion of non-existence as an ontological commitment inherently assumes existence as a predicate of individuals – I asserted this last round and Con dropped it.

Observe the following statement:

x Unicorn(x) --  “there exists x, such that x is a unicorn”.  – a valid proposition.

Now observe Con’s notion of assuming non-existence as a predicate.

x (Unicorn(x) ^ doesnotexist(x)) “there exists x, such that x is a unicorn and that x does not exist”

This is a contradiction. Asserting non-existence as a predicate is what makes the idea of non-existent concepts incoherent in the first place.  Following Con’s quote regarding Ronald McDonald, the source goes on to state:

“That, Russell complained, runs contrary to a robust sense of reality, according to which everything exists. So, we should reject the claim that existence is a property of the designation of subject terms in existential sentences.”

This is what led to the famous refutation of existence as a predicate of individuals by Kant and Hume in the first place.
 

A2. Monistic Idealism
This has essentially boiled down to MS vs Dualism – Con already conceded that the mind exists, therefore he is affirming something similar to Cartesian Dualism.  However, Con’s evidence for dualism lacks the necessary justification for I) the multiplicity of substances and ii) how two different substances can interact!  Con mentions the brain and neuro-correlates, behaviourisms likely brought about through evolution, but both do not entail a multiplicity of substances, nor the interaction between them.  In MS, the brain is reducible to the mind.  Thus, the fact that there are correlates between consciousness and the brain means absolutely nothing unless Con can prove they are different substances.  Con states that there is no evidence that the mind can occur without the brain, but Con has already conceded the fact that all that can truly be known is that the mind exists – thus, the analogy can be reversed;  there is no evidence that the brain, or anything else can exist without the mind.  Really, this argument is moot since it does not objectively prove that there is anything else but the mind!  This doesn’t provide nearly enough argumentative inclination to prefer Dualism over MS.

I highlighted the interaction problem between the mind and non-mind – it is analogous to a ghost that exists sans mass, or any physical properties, being able to interact with reality e.g opening doors and lifting objects.  We observe particles interact with either gravitational, electromagnetic, weak or strong nuclear forces – immaterial has no mass to exert gravitational forces, does not have charge to have an electric or electromagnetic field and are not made up of particles to have necessary properties like isospin or colour charge to interact via weak/strong nuclear forces. An interaction barrier has not been observed!  For the mind to interact with the body (non-mind) would require an interaction barrier – the mediation of information between substances.  For example, my conscious thought to move my leg first requires my conscious (mind) and results in my leg (non-mind) moving. How does this happen, if none of the known ways of mediation of information is occurring (gluons, photons, Higgs, z,w bosons etc)?  To affirm Dualism over MS would be to reject our standard model of physics.

He then goes on to state:

If we are to accept Pro's argument then we retreat to an even spookier position - Pro rassles with how two fundamentally different substances can interact. Yet, has Pro answered the question of how one single mind can create all there is?”

This strawman’s the second premise entirely – he provides no refutation to the second premise and conveniently ignores the mind-body problem; it should be Con that is “rassling” with how two fundamentally different substances can interact because he is affirming Dualism. 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Forfeited
Added:
--> @Ragnar
Thanks for taking the time to vote and your detailed anaylsis.
Instigator
#14
Added:
Related but not part of my decision:
The resolution is really hard to disprove, even if the outcome has no bearing on our lives. It’s similar to pointing out that altruists enjoy doing good things so aren’t true altruists; as if that would in any way corrupt the good work they do (it’d actually be pretty creepy if they hated helping other people, and did it full of resentment).
However it's fine for philosophy explore in these directions.
#13
Added:
---RFD 1 of 2---
Gist:
Con drops a lot of points even stating he would defend his case against rebuttals in a future round that he did not publish. Even without this, pro was pulling ahead, perhaps due to con trying to rule of the complexity of the mind, which no theory I know of rejects. Were the resolution the MS is true, I would probably mark this a tie, as is, the argument that it is the most likely hypothesis (non-testable, so I won’t call it a theory) held up.
1. Epistemological Parsimony
The only certainty is that we exist, and Occam’s Razor says we should trust that certainty.
Con gives a tentative concession, “I am in agreement with Pro that the existence of the mind is a most certain and irrefutable fact. I also agree that ‘the external reality which is said to exist [without] the mind does not share the same certainty.’” But he goes on to assert that Agnosism is the most likely, we just can’t know... Which dances around the issue, rather than actually giving a hypothesis which can be likely or not (even if it is the best to follow, it’s not one that makes any claims on its likelihood of being true). Con moves on to trying to twist pro’s strongly supported case into a didit fallacy... It’s grasping at straws.
2. Monistic Idealism
Surprised to see ghosts referenced here (that they can’t touch stuff as evidence for the mind and body being distinct), but it was a nice break from the hard stuff...
Anyway, con challenges that this focuses on the mind-body problem, which MS rejects the existence of the second half. This was a strong point, which both missed (pro opted to respond to other parts, and con did not extend his best piece in light of that).
#12
Added:
---RFD 2 of 2---
3. MS isn't consistent with observation
Between dreams and reality seeming to not be glitchy, con makes some solid points.
Pro counters with reminding us that con has not justified the need for these things to exist outside the mind. Then moves on to the bigger issue that (simplifying it down) we don’t remember our dreams or understand them if we do, but still have them.
Con basically says the mind being complex and layered defeats MS, but I missed how and why it would do this.
4. The existence of an objective reality is more likely
Short, but sweet; even using The Matrix as an additional alternative. Sadly, pre-refuted with the explanation of how Occam’s Razor applies to MS.
After that it basically morphs into repeated content from other argument lines.
---
Arguments: pro
See above review of key points.
Sources: pro
Con only started really trying to support his case with external evidence in his final round (as much as I enjoyed that Matrix clip),
S&G: tie
Not penalizing, but con’s interest shortage showed in R2 when he ceased applying special formatting to his case. Pro on the other hand offered a steady stream (but not spammed) of reliable sources giving extra insight to his case. Of note I should point to Spinoza’s Modal Metaphysics, which potentially offered a path to falsifiability. Additionally the article “Conscious and Unconscious Memory Systems” was leveraged very well to demonstrate layers of the subconscious, defending against attacks to the mind being limited only by the conscious.
Conduct: pro
Missed round.
#11
Added:
--> @semperfortis
Sorry buddy. I lost interest.
Contender
#10
Added:
--> @Virtuoso, @Ragnar, @Ramshutu
If any of you have time could you vote on this debate? Thank you.
Instigator
#9
Added:
--> @billbatard
I don't necessarily buy into it. It's an interesting position though. Solipsism has been philosophically obstinate -- it seems ridiculous but it's very difficult to disprove.
Instigator
#8
Added:
we construct our own realities, we believe what we want to, that doesn't mean objective reality isn't a thing
#7
Added:
Pity a 2 month long
debate ended this way.
Instigator
#6
Added:
--> @Cogent_Cognizer
Yes! I have been reading it.
Instigator
#5
Added:
--> @semperfortis
You may be interested in this debate I started: https://www.debateart.com/debates/1216/the-self-is-god-unrated-practice-debate
It's almost over as my opponent just needs to post a concluding round. A lot of it is based around solipsism.
#4
Added:
TBH just forgot about the rule. A simple solution would be for me to not do any defense in my next post.
Contender
#3
Added:
--> @bmdrocks21
Yes haha.
Instigator
#2
Added:
--> @semperfortis
Someone has been reading too much Descartes lol
#1
#1
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
See comments:
https://www.debateart.com/debates/1136/comment_links/19674
Admittedly this is a case where I wish I could assign one less point for arguments, as a way to give credit for how good a job con did against the odds he faced.