• Anthony
    73
    Why do so many people believe in objectivity? Some dictionary definitions:

    "intent upon or dealing with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings, as a person or a book.

    being the object of perception or thought; belonging to the object of thought rather than to the thinking subject (opposed to subjective).

    of or relating to something that can be known, or to something that is an object or a part of an object; existing independent of thought or an observer as part of reality."

    Some questions based on the definitions:

    What is external to the mind?

    What is the object of thought without the thought? Is there a difference between a "thinking subject" and "thought"?

    To be an object, like a rock, is to be object-ive, or to have objectness. This is the only sensible gloss of "objectivity"...derivable from tangibility only. Nothing objective exists without an observation, or, nothing "exists" apart from an observation.

    If to be objective connotes existing apart from an observation...objectiveness is non existent. I never have understood what people mean when they speak of being objective. Shall I turn myself into a rock? But then I won't be conscious or able to think or make observations... I'm afraid this is another one of those concepts that's ensnared most people as another consensus reality trap and led to intellectual sloth.
  • MindForged
    556
    I feel like you're mixing a lot of things together. The object of thought is the thing being thought of. Like when I think of a rock the "target" of my thought is the rock. Generally when people speak of being objective they don't mean being an object. They're talking about not being overly biased, letting one's own biases and experience cloud how what they believe and how they arrive at their beliefs.
  • Pattern-chaser
    655
    letting one's own biases and experience cloud how what they believe and how they arrive at their beliefs.MindForged

    But, but... One's biases and experience are a fundamental part of how we arrive at our beliefs! :chin:
  • Damir Ibrisimovic
    129
    What is external to the mind?Anthony

    Maybe it will help to define "objectivity".

    Objectivity is an agreed (but vaguer) form of more than one subjectivities.

    This is what peer-view is aiming for. We could also say that such derivation of subjectivities is "external to the mind" outlines what it is external - out there.

    Enjoy the day,
  • MindForged
    556
    I didn't deny it was part of how we come to beliefs, I said they should not cloud how we come to them. They shouldn't have undue influence when compared to other factors such as warrant, reason and the like.
  • Janus
    6.2k


    A belief is objective if it is the one that any disinterested inquirer would come to when presented with all the evidence. So, for example the belief that water boils at 100 degrees Centigrade is an objective one.
  • Damir Ibrisimovic
    129
    A belief is objective if more then one subjective believes are agreed upon. (That is the power of peer-review.)
  • Janus
    6.2k


    Yes, objectivity is really inter-subjectivity. But I think that more than a couple or even a few subjects would be required to agree about a belief based on the same evidence for it to be counted as objective.
  • StreetlightX
    3.2k
    *yawn*. Objectivity is just repeatability under invariant conditions. Ain't nothing to write home about. Also worth noting that in the medieval terminology from which the subject-object distinction derived, an object was a strict correlate of a subject, so that the two were conceptually inseperable. The esse objectivm was that which existed only for a knowing being - something was objective only to the extent that it existed for a knowing being. That objectivity has come to mean that which is somehow totally seperate from a subject is just an unfortunate conceptual slide which has caused all sorts of confusion.
  • Wayfarer
    6.9k
    That objectivity has come to mean that which is somehow totally seperate from a subject is just an unfortunate conceptual slide which has caused all sorts of confusion.StreetlightX

    :up: Connected with taking methodological naturalism as a metaphysical principle, which it isn't.
  • Damir Ibrisimovic
    129
    But I think that more than a couple or even a few subjects would be required to agree about a belief based on the same evidence for it to be counted as objective.Janus

    It is hard to quantify how many subjective views we need to achieve "objective" status. I would say two minimum without objections.

    Hearty,
  • Pattern-chaser
    655
    Our biases and experience don't cloud our judgement, they form and guide our beliefs. We are emotionally-driven creatures. Emotions are central and fundamental to what we are. To see this part of us as something that clouds what we do is putting "ought" instead of "is", and even then it's what you think ought to be.... :chin: [Assuming, for the purposes of this conversation, that biases and experiences are synonymous with emotions.]
  • Pattern-chaser
    655
    I suggest that nothing less than an infinite sample size is required to turn consensus into objectivity. Two definitely isn't sufficient, IMO.
  • Damir Ibrisimovic
    129
    ... infinite sample size ...Pattern-chaser

    Is gravity objective?

    Before Newton, geometry (circle) was the driving "force" behind movements of celestial objects. So Copernicus proposed the heliocentric system with circular orbits for planets. It didn't work, so Kepler cheated with his elliptical orbits...

    And then Newton proposed the gravitational theory and everything clicked together...

    The Newton's theory is still a theory - but is it objective?

    At some point we need it to be "objective". If new information contradicts - we still have a method called belief revision...

    I agree that we need more than two subjective views to proclaim that the theory is objective. But how many - depends on circumstances...

    Hearty,
  • Pierre-Normand
    1.5k
    Connected with taking methodological naturalism as a metaphysical principle, which it isn't.Wayfarer

    I concur with @StreetlightX and yourself. In line with this modern alteration of the meaning of "objective", and together with the rise of metaphysical realism (Putnam's phrase for the thesis that what exists objectively must exist entirely separately from human concerns and/or concepts), another main culprit, it seems to me, is representationalism in the philosophy of mind and in contemporary cognitive science. This is an inheritance from Descartes methodological skepticism; stemming from its underlying assumption that what it is that we really are in cognitive contact with in the world can only be the highest common factor between the way it affects us in the case where we really perceive it and the case were we are subjected to some illusion. Such common factors or cognition or perception, allegedly produced "in" the mind, taint all cognition of the world with subjectivity and problematize both the concepts of objectivity and of subjectivity. It makes it hard to conceive how the very same cognitive act could be unproblematically objective and, at the same time, necessarily imbued with human subjectivity.
  • jorndoe
    625
    The Newton's theory is still a theory - but is it objective?Damir Ibrisimovic

    It's a model.
    Models are not the modeled.
    Unless you're thinking about thoughts, the thoughts are not that which you're thinking of.
    ...

    Shameless plug.
  • Damir Ibrisimovic
    129
    It's a model.jorndoe

    That's the first time I heard that a model is not a theory...

    Hearty,
  • Wayfarer
    6.9k
    In line with this modern alteration of the meaning of "objective", and together with the rise of metaphysical realism (Putnam's phrase for the thesis that what exists objectively must exist entirely separately from human concerns and/or concepts), another main culprit, it seems to me, is representationalism in the philosophy of mind and in contemporary cognitive science.Pierre-Normand

    I agree. I think this is a really major underlying issue in many of the debates here. One of the philosophers who analyses it in depth is Thomas Nagel, although Hilary Putnam seems another.

    This sense of 'otherness' is not due to Descartes alone, but to the whole complex comprising Cartesian dualism, representational realism, and the emphasis on quantification in respect of all kinds of questions - the typical mindset of modernism (to be distinguished from post-modernism).

    Which is not to say that objectivity is not valuable in its domain of application, and something to strive for. But I think a better and more comprehensive term for about the same quality is 'disinterestedness' or 'detachment'.
  • Pattern-chaser
    655
    I agree that we need more than two subjective views to proclaim that the theory is objective.Damir Ibrisimovic

    I think you might mean something quite mild when you say "objective", maybe "unbiased"? Even then, there is a difference between that and consensus. The former is genuinely unbiased; the latter describes a bias that is in accord with the bias(es) of the majority. Even an infinite number of people who agree with you doesn't make your opinion objective.
  • Damir Ibrisimovic
    129
    I think you might mean something quite mild when you say "objective", maybe "unbiased"? Even then, there is a difference between that and consensus.Pattern-chaser

    What about Global Warming? We have very large scientific consensus - and yet we have large non-scientific views denying that Global Warming exists...

    Hearty, :cool:
  • gurugeorge
    517
    As others have said, you're kind of mixing up several senses of "objective" here. It's helpful to look at all the dictionary definitions of a term, and focus more narrowly on the one you're interested in.

    There are usually etymological and historical relationships between the different uses of a word, but great confusion can be caused by using a word one way when your listener is thinking of it in another way.

    But responding in the same general terms as you're using, I think of the objective as the ingress of surprise into consciousness. Surprise is what clues us in that there's something "external" to our minds, our feelings, our preferences, our wishes, etc.

    In that context, objectivity is then an attitude where we subordinate what we think to what we discover.
  • Marchesk
    2.4k
    [
    Also worth noting that in the medieval terminology from which the subject-object distinction derived, an object was a strict correlate of a subject, so that the two were conceptually inseperable. The esse objectivm was that which existed only for a knowing being - something was objective only to the extent that it existed for a knowing being.StreetlightX

    I don't thinks this quite works. My dreams and fantasies exist known to me, but they're subjective. So is being me. I can tell other people about my subjectivity, and to the extent it's similar to their own, they can relate to it. But there is a sense in which there is this chasm between all of us, to varying degrees. I will never know what it's like to give birth or be born blind.

    Even more so, I can't know what it is to be another animal. I'm sure there are some similarities, but I will never experience the world of smell the way a dog does.

    As for the medieval view on this, the subjective/objective split showed up in ancient philosophies in both Europe and Asia. It's not just a recent mistake that's been made, but rather is reflective of having minds that can dream, imagine, hallucinate, and have individual bodies which have to use indirect means to communicate experiences.

    That objectivity has come to mean that which is somehow totally seperate from a subject is just an unfortunate conceptual slide which has caused all sorts of confusion.StreetlightX

    Well, science (physics in particular) paints a picture of the world very different from the one we experience, and the question of to what extent the world is like what we perceive has been around for a very long time. Does the color we experience exist in the objects, or is that just a result of having eyes that detect EM radiation in the range where photons bounce off objects? Does time actually flow as we experience it? And so on.
  • StreetlightX
    3.2k
    I don't thinks this quite works.Marchesk

    I'm not particularly concerned with what you think, I'm telling you how it was, and how the current distinction between subject and object is an outgrowth - a cancerous one, I'd say - of a more original distinction which was far more coherent and far more interesting than its current day incarnation.
  • wellwisher
    163
    What about Global Warming? We have very large scientific consensus - and yet we have large non-scientific views denying that Global Warming exists...Damir Ibrisimovic

    The earth is warming, as it has done since the last ice age. This is objective. Where objectivity gets lost is blaming this on humans.

    Say for the sake of argument, the observed warming was due to humans. If so, this would be the first time in the history of the earth, that human caused the earth to warm. In the bigger picture of the philosophy of science, one should not draw a dogmatic conclusion, based on one single event and then call that being objective. It would be like developing a new medicine, giving it to one person and claiming it is the new wonder drug. It may be, but one data point or one event is not enough to be so sure, unless one is driven by subjectivity.

    The earth has warmed and cooled, all by itself, many times in the past. The earth causing the warming would be much closer to being objective, since we have dozens of data points to show this is not just possible but has lots of precedent.

    Another way to look at this is, the same swamp people, that brought you the Russian collusion narrative, also brought you the global warming narrative. They are composed of lawyers, intelligence people, media and marketeers, who are very effective in convincing people that a subjective line of bull, repeated enough times, can appear to be objective fact.

    The trick for being objective is to know your own subjectivity, so you can filter it out. This skill can be developed through self reflection and research into your own unconscious mind. Science overcomes subjectivity with a group approach, where each member provide checks and balances for each other since scientists can be subjective, when lots of research money is at stake. This is when the subjective sales pitch is needed to compete for the cash.
  • Christoffer
    80
    An object existing objectively means it exists without an observers existence. To be objective means putting forth an argument or statement that is focused on the actual facts rather than the interpretations of those facts.

    Example: There is a painting of a flower in a room. Ten people gets the task of going into the room and then come out and write down a description of what they saw in that room. All of these descriptions become a subject interpretation of the fact (the painting of a flower). But the sum of all those interpretations is the objective viewpoint. I.e a single person cannot hold a purely objective opinion or viewpoint, but a collective can, as long as the interpretations are presented, as close as they individually can, to be objective.

    If you increase the numbers of the group from ten to hundred or a thousand and so forth, the objectivity becomes greater. This is why the only real way to be objective is through the scientific method. Relying on as objective observations as possible, tests that shows answers that aren't influenced by subject views and combining many studies and peer reviews to come to a combined objective conclusion.
    Another method is through pure logic, in which a rational argument cannot be false since it follows logic and if broken breaks logic rather than a subjective viewpoint. But such arguments are limited in what they can describe, for example, math solutions are mostly objective, meaning they can't be changed through subjective means.

    Another perspective is also that objectives and subjectives are constructs of the human mind. For us, objectivity is an illusion because we can only agree on whats true based on our subjective viewpoint, but for the objective world, if it would have had a mind, would view subjectivity as an illusion of skewed interpretation of something solid.

    What makes this thing more interesting is when we go down to quantum levels and the behaviour of particles that change whenever we measure them, or becomes objective when we look for an objective answer. However, if we view randomness as based on the scale of the universe, the smaller something gets, the less objective it becomes. You could probably predict the entire future history of the largest objects in the universe, their objective paths, but we aren't small enough either to be free of this, you need to go down to quantum levels in order to start questioning the objective as equal to the subjective. Objective should then be considered a state of probability. But at our scale we exist in a state of measurable high probability, so we can be objective, as long as we use methods external to our subjective views.

    However, a single person cannot and will not ever be able to be objective, but we can be objective as a group, if members of that group has the intention of individually being objective through the process.
  • Damir Ibrisimovic
    129
    If so, this would be the first time in the history of the earth, that human caused the earth to warm.wellwisher

    The industrial revolution was also the first time in the history of the Earth. For the first time in the history of the Earth, humans burned carbon on industrial scales. There are also estimates of how many tonnes of carbon have been turned into carbon dioxide...

    I do not think that this will be easily bridged. :)

    However, a single person cannot and will not ever be able to be objective, but we can be objective as a group, if members of that group has the intention of individually being objective through the process.Christoffer

    The most of the peer-review processes yield a pretty objective picture. However, there can be only one person that submits a paper for peer-review as the second stage towards consensus. In such cases, a single person could be very close to the consensus reached through peer-review...

    We can partly agree here... :)

    Hearty, :cool:
  • Christoffer
    80


    "The earth is warming, as it has done since the last ice age. This is objective. Where objectivity gets lost is blaming this on humans."

    - I feel that you are picking premisses that only support your conclusion here. Through the scientific process you get as close to objectivity as we can get. But you put aside all the other data that support the objective claim that humans affect the climate. Measurements aren't just about temperature, they are about correlations between fluctuations in our climate with events in our history, primarily from the industrial revolution up until today.

    Just because someone doesn't understand how to read the data that has been put forward by numerous scientists and doesn't have the knowledge to use that data in order to reach an objective conclusion doesn't mean that the scientific community that has put forward their conclusions is wrong.

    "Another way to look at this is, the same swamp people, that brought you the Russian collusion narrative, also brought you the global warming narrative. They are composed of lawyers, intelligence people, media and marketeers, who are very effective in convincing people that a subjective line of bull, repeated enough times, can appear to be objective fact."

    - This begging the question. You assume your conclusion is correct by a premise you assume to be correct, but in fact is composed of another fallacy, correlation doesn't mean causation. You could actually say the opposite about this, that the people you bring up have these opinions because they are smarter and have the facts on their side and there's just as much to support that as there is to your false conclusion. This is not a premiss or argument that works, so your conclusion becomes false. You also put aside the fact that climate research has been going on longer than the "Russian collusion narrative" as you call it. By history of this field of science alone, your argument and premiss becomes false.

    "The trick for being objective is to know your own subjectivity, so you can filter it out. This skill can be developed through self reflection and research into your own unconscious mind. Science overcomes subjectivity with a group approach, where each member provide checks and balances for each other since scientists can be subjective, when lots of research money is at stake. This is when the subjective sales pitch is needed to compete for the cash."

    - Agreed on the scientific process, but it seems you are concluding that because scientists need funds in order to do research, they create false conclusions in order to get funds, which isn't supported by any premisses that are correct. One thing is that things like climate change has been in research by numerous institutes around the globe, all with different means of doing research. Some instituts have been getting funds without the need of appealing to investors so their findings aren't biased by fundraising processes.

    The fact that you choose this subject is strange under the discussion of objectivity and subjectivity, since the scientific community has a large consensus about humans affecting the climate. It's in more consensus than a lot of work in the field of physics and gravity.

    If you want to discuss objectivity vs subjectivity, you might want to pick something that aren't focused on political ideology, since what you put forward doesn't have any premisses that support any conclusion in this discussion. Humans affecting climate change has been proven by the scientific community and by 97% consensus which is very high in the world of scientific research. Conclusions by people who aren't involved in this field of science should be careful to dismiss this, since THAT is pure subjectivity and subjectivity out of ideology.

    Therefor, the conclusion you draw based on the subjects you chose are a pure subjective opinion about the level of objectivity the science have, it's not an objective opinion about the level of objectivity the scientific community has.

    The argument can be boiled down to this.

    1. You need to have education and knowledge of climate research in order to properly and objectively analyze the data together with other scientists in this field. Without knowledge of the process and science in this field, you cannot come to any viable conclusion.
    2. Climate change scientists are in high consensus about humans affecting the climate.
    3. Climate change scientists are too spread across the globe and works under too many different economical processes to be viably blamed for any conspiracy in getting research funds. Such a conspiracy also demands that all scientists have the driving force of earning money, that none of them have the drive force of wanting to reach a true conclusion in this field.
    4. Those who oppose the conclusion that humans affect the climate does not have proper education or knowledge in the field.
    5. Those who oppose the conclusion that humans affect the climate often use fallacy arguments and purely ideological ideas to back up their conclusions, rather than looking at the science.

    Conclusion: The most objective conclusion you can do as a person that aren't educated in the climate field of science is to listen to the consensus of the scientists. To instead listen to those who oppose, the ones who does not have any education, those who use fallacies in all their arguments and put forth claims of a unproved conspiracy would be truly irrational and subjective. If a politician agrees with the scientific consensus and you do not agree with that politicians ideological position, it's not the scientists who are wrong when you don't agree with that politician, that's called guilt by proxy. Not believing in the science because politicians you don't agree with, agree with that science, does not equal the science to be wrong. So using arguments that focus on who agrees with the scientific community as a basis for why the science is wrong, is a subjective ideological conclusion, not an objective one. So you are using pure subjective premisses and arguments on the subject of subjectivity and objectivity, which makes a bit of a mess to your reasoning.
  • Pattern-chaser
    655
    What about Global Warming? We have very large scientific consensus - and yet we have large non-scientific views denying that Global Warming exists...Damir Ibrisimovic

    You suggest that consensus, where we all agree, but we could all be wrong, is the same as objective, which offers a sort of guarantee that something is correct, and accurately reflects reality?
  • Anthony
    73
    An object existing objectively means it exists without an observers existence. To be objective means putting forth an argument or statement that is focused on the actual facts rather than the interpretations of those facts.

    Example: There is a painting of a flower in a room. Ten people gets the task of going into the room and then come out and write down a description of what they saw in that room. All of these descriptions become a subject interpretation of the fact (the painting of a flower). But the sum of all those interpretations is the objective viewpoint. I.e a single person cannot hold a purely objective opinion or viewpoint, but a collective can, as long as the interpretations are presented, as close as they individually can, to be objective.
    Christoffer

    Then, by your definition, the only way it is possible for there to be objectivity is if there are no beings in existence capable of making an observation. Once we have an observer, objectivity doesn't exist, It matters not whether there is one observer or an infinity of them. To observe, conceptualize, logic chop, engage reason, measure, all requires splitting a foreground of observation from the background of what isn't observed or known.

    How is it possible not to interpret something. The selection of what to be informed by against the background of truth, or incomplete information (perhaps truth from its side is complete, but to one of us or all of us, it is endlessly incomplete) is already an interpretation.

    To say "all of these descriptions become a subject interpretation of the fact" and "but the sum of all those interpretations is the objective viewpoint" of the flower appears to be some sort of casuistry. What is the the real difference between "all of the descriptions" and " the sum of all those interpretations"; what is the difference between an interpretation and a description? Can you describe to me all of these descriptions or the sum total of the interpretations? How does one person ever have a sum total viewpoint as the "collective"? Surely the collective viewpoint would be exclusive to the collective, and intellectual honesty forbids me to entertain this fiction. In other words, do you honestly believe in a collective viewpoint? Once again if you please, describe to me what is a collective viewpoint?

    Is it possible for two people to share the same observation? If so, please explain.

    Maybe I could see two people being objective together if they aren't making an observation...which is impossible unless they be unconscious; maybe when they sleep in the same bed in a state of deep sleep they are almost objective. How would summing or averaging two different people's observations be possible without intellectual dishonesty? There is always a process of selecting one frame against all possible frames. And the frame is predominately a qualitative ontological edifice, not a quantitative, or countable one. Frames of observation can't be multiplied, or applied computations to, but only changed. It makes no sense to talk of a change of observing boundaries inclusive of two different people because this isn't possible anyway (sharing the same boundary of observational viewpoint). It does make sense to talk about one individual changing his frame of reference over time.
  • Pattern-chaser
    655
    All of these descriptions become a subject interpretation of the fact (the painting of a flower). But the sum of all those interpretations is the objective viewpoint. I.e a single person cannot hold a purely objective opinion or viewpoint, but a collective can...Christoffer

    I don't even need to type anything, as I typed it all just a few short minutes ago:

    You suggest that consensus, where we all agree, but we could all be wrong, is the same as objective, which offers a sort of guarantee that something is correct, and accurately reflects reality?Pattern-chaser

    :smile:
  • Christoffer
    80


    You suggest that consensus, where we all agree, but we could all be wrong, is the same as objective, which offers a sort of guarantee that something is correct, and accurately reflects reality? — Pattern-chaser

    True that all could be wrong, that's why I described it as a rising objectivity with more people in that group. For example, if a field of science comes to the conclusion with a 99% consensus, that is pretty objective and it's hard to find the subjective part in that conclusion, even if it technically isn't pure objectivity. But there is a problem within this binary way of deciphering objectivity.

    Thing is, we could argue that there isn't anything that makes us humans being able to be objective, if we're putting the definition of objective to be 100% objective in relation to the objective world. Meaning, through the lens of the unconscious material and purely objective world that exists outside of our concept and perception of it, that is the only thing that can truly be objective, since any observation requires subjectivity.

    However, the concept of objectivity is not defined as 100% pure objectivity as in, there isn't a subject mind around to interpret it, but instead a definition of what we see as proven facts outside of our concept and interpretations of it. So, gravity, that things are falling to the ground is objectively true and while we could argue that we don't know that it is true as it's only our interpretation of sensory information, we cannot be 100% sure it's an objective truth. But "objectivity" as we define it isn't about that, it's about the closest we can get to something that we can comprehend as existing outside of our perception and subjective mind. We agree upon gravity pulling objects to the center of the planet, it's an objective truth for us within the framework of the world and universe that we define ourselves within. Therefor, the higher number of consensus among the highest numbers of people who are as objective as they can possibly be with their subjective minds, is what objectivity means to us humans.

    Any other definition of objectivity means we need to step outside of being humans, therefor we need to be another form of entity to redefine what objective means.

    That's why I defined the scientific process as the closest we humans have got to being truly objective and that form of objectivity should be considered a true definition of the word. Otherwise we open up to defining anything, any knowledge that we have, as subjective and that's a slippery slope down to denying facts in science.
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