The existence of an external world

  1. Moore’s argument for the existence of an external world is both laughable and apparently incontrovertible. Explain both of these intuitions by reference to features of the argument.
  2. Moore says a requirement for proof is that the premises be different from the conclusion. Why should this be necessary?
  3. Identify Moore’s argument for an external world by explicitly listing the premises and conclusion.
  4. What would Moore say if Descartes said: “Your premise is illegitimate. How do you know those hand impressions are not dreams?”
  5. In some ways Moore’s argument provides a reply to Descartes’ dreaming argument. In other ways it does not. Identify and explain one of each.
  6. Why does Moore think he does not need to prove his premises (in the philosopher’s sense of prove) in order to achieve his goal?
  7. Suppose it’s true that we know nothing better than that we have hands. Does that mean that we know we have hands? Is it a reason to think so?
  8. Make a list of things you think Moore’s argument does and does not achieve. Include obvious things, and explain all of them.
  9. At the end of his essay, Moore appears to agree with Descartes’s claim that in order to prove that here is one hand and here is another I would have to prove that I am not now dreaming, and admits that the latter would be very hard to do. Yet, earlier Moore insisted that he had proven that two human hands exist. Explain.

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