The Brain in a Vat Argument





The Brain in a Vat Argument

The ‘brain in a vat argument’ posits the question: how is it possible to know if one is not, for instance, a brain in a vat being tricked by popular figures. If it is difficult to know this, subsequently how can one have an understanding of the external world? The objective of the essay is to explicate this problem in its clearest form, and consequently, illustrate the way in which it can be resolved. The conclusion will contain a statement affirming that people are fully aware that they are not a brain in a vat. It will also reaffirm the claim that humans have the knowledge of numerous things about the universe (Brueckner, and Ebbs 78). However, this first section tackles the skeptical issue. Visualize a human brain in a vat, connected with the common array of cables and wires. These gadgets and equipment are meant to replenish nutrients and other vitals, maintaining life and strength. The devices monitor any sensory input, and for observing the brain’s efforts to shift its body.

All of these gadgets are connected to a computer that transforms the brain’s experiences into realistic images. Therefore, the brain sees itself as being contained in a normal body. It seems relatively imprudent to believe this BIV hypothesis. People have no reason to think of such things. However, it is tough to determine the authenticity of the BIV hypothesis (Brueckner, and Ebbs 23). One can never be certain about the fact that their brain in a vat or not. The issue is that people’s experiences show all indications that their brains could be in a vat. Certainly, there is a slight difference in the experiences of an ordinary person and that of a brain in a vat. Therefore, even after assuming that a person is not a brain in a vat, it appears difficult to prove that the BIV hypothesis is false. Regrettably, the majority of all people’s beliefs about the universe are grounded on the supposition that the BIV hypothesis is false. The term “universe” is used to represent the world outside the mind of the human being. Therefore, for instance, one strongly believes that his mother is existent (Brueckner, and Ebbs 12).

However, if the person were merely a brain in a vat, then their mother ceases to be real. Consequently, one’s convictions that their mother is existent are formed on the assumption that their entire body is not just a brain in a vat. In the same way, people have their beliefs that the book is white, that their things are exactly where they were placed, that Donald Trump is a man or that a cow is eating grass. It is imperative to reiterate that these and other categories of beliefs are grounded on the assumption that an individual is not a brain in a vat. Therefore, if an individual cannot establish if the BIV hypothesis is false, then it emerges that one cannot easily affirm any of the beliefs about the universe. There is a critical aspect concerning the issue of universe skepticism. An analyst may be left with that nagging feeling that the issue of “brain-in-a-vat” has not really been solved. If this is the case, I believe this occurs because of a mix-up of two diverse issues (Brueckner, and Ebbs 45). The initial one is epistemological in nature. How is it possible to react to the skeptic who debates that one is unaware of anything concerning the universe? To find a solution to this problem, it is necessary to find grounds to discard a single premise of the BIV argument.

Russell’s Response

Bertrand Russell offered an excellent response to the “the brain in a vat” argument that was hinged on three major assumptions. One of Bertrand’s assumptions was that when the experts had conceded, the opposing opinion could not be deemed as certain. The opinions of professionals, when undisputed, ought to be accepted by non-professionals as having a higher possibility of being right compared to the contradictory opinion. The other skepticisms that Russell proposed include that on occasions when they are not in consensus, non-professional cannot consider any opinion as certain. The last skepticism was that in instances where they all agreed that they lacked a convincing reason to conclude that a positive view existed, the non-expert would be well placed to put his judgment on hold. In his essay entitled “On the Value of Skepticism,” Russell noted that the “…these propositions may seem mild, yet, if accepted, they would absolutely revolutionize human life” (Brueckner, and Ebbs 67). “The opinions for which people are willing to fight and persecute all belong to one of the three classes which this skepticism condemns.” Russell assumed that all facts were eventually originated from human sensory organs of the universe around man. Individual observation, though, is effortlessly influenced and susceptible to flaws (Searle 56). If three people having a different perception look at the same object, there is a high possibility that each person will perceive the same object differently. Making any changes to the object will have the effect of invoking another different perception. This creates the need for the difference to be made between facades and truth.


Works Cited

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Brueckner, Anthony, and Gary Ebbs. Debating Self-Knowledge. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Print.

Searle, John R. Seeing Things As They Are: A Theory of Perception. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2015. Print.

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