This is a fair review for the most part. However, while I used to concur with the presumption of atheism, in God and Other Minds, Plantinga showed that "if there are no solid arguments to believe that that is the case, lack of belief is the only logical alternative," is simply not true. Plantinga showed that it is not irrational to hold a belief in something if the arguments for and against either side are inconclusive. There are no good arguments that other minds exist. The arguments for and against the proposition that other minds exist are at best inconclusive; there is no reason to assume that the reason other individuals interact with you is because they are self-conscious rather than that their neural machinery is turning out appropriate responses regarding their current circumstances, or to assume that you aren't being deceived by a program like the matrix. However, while there is no way to prove that other minds exist, it is nonetheless not irrational to believe that other minds do, in fact, exist. Other reason for the warrant of that belief must be given, however, but this can be given for both theism and other minds, and Plantinga unwraps the reason for warranted Christian belief in his book titled just that.
I really appreciate him posting this, because it made me realize that, if that was brought up while I was debating, I would not have an immediate response, and it would take me even longer to be able to effectively articulate why this example doesn’t work. In that sense it was quite humbling. What I said was just something I assumed people would intuitively realize to be the case.
But, luckily, I’m not in a debate, so I had a lot of time to think about it, and came up with a couple reasons why I disagree with Plantiga’s argument. Feel free to respond about why I’m wrong, why I’m right, or other arguments. I have not read Plantiga’s book, so it’s quite possible he has already responded to these.
My best response would be that I think the reader is confusing Plantiga’s argument, that we can accept things without absolutely conclusive proof for them, with my claim, that we should have good evidence for something in order to believe it. I think this because, at the end of the paragraph, he says, “Other reason(sp) for the warrant of that belief must be given, however, but this can be given for both theism and other minds”, which says that there are indeed good reasons to believe that other people have minds as well. This would agree with my claim. But I have not read Plantiga’s book, so let’s continue assuming I’m incorrect and Plantiga is saying that we can accept something without any good evidence, and that he’s using the mind as an example of this.
The mind is a very philosophical idea. Making the claim “the mind exists” is really something that we shouldn’t take for granted or assume is the case. Indeed if we want to question its existence, we first have to examine what exactly we mean by the term. A google search would yield the definition, “that which is responsible for one's thoughts and feelings; the seat of the faculty of reason”. But isn’t that just the brain? The concept of “the mind” is just that, a concept. It is a word used to describe the fact that we can internally rationalize and think in a seemingly independent fashion. That we are able to make choices about things and be an individual, not just physically, but in the mind as well. It’s not something that exists; it’s a word we use to describe the conscious processes we do in our daily lives, and that we are able to see ourselves as an individual. If we wanted to say the mind exists (for others but even for us as well) we’d have to rethink what we mean by exist.
However, even if we assume that the mind exists, I think that the argument still has some issues. Who is to say that evidence for this “mind” word we’ve been talking about is inconclusive? For example, we know that thought originates from the brain, and, if we were to examine people’s brains, we can come to the conclusion that they are all quite similar, and that certain thoughts (products of “the mind”) even trigger brain activity in the same areas of the brain from person to person. We could even compare other peoples’ minds to our own with certain types of brain scans.
Of course there is the possibility that everyone else in the world is not self conscious. But is this really the most likely situation? I think that the simple answer to that would be no, given what we know about the brain and our daily experience interacting with other people. Indeed, if we were the only self-conscious individuals, just about everything we know about everything would be incorrect, including many scientific claims that are now seen as fact. In this respect there is a lot of evidence for other minds, even if there is no way to find absolute proof that it is the case.
I did take the time to check out the user’s own blog, and to be honest it is quite interesting to read. He himself seems to be very enthusiastic about philosophy, and even when he reads something that agrees with his conclusion (I’m assuming he’s a Christian or a weak atheist who is still open to the idea of Christianity), he still looks to critique, which I find speaks very well to his character. So feel free to check it out and leave comments!