• Banno
    5.1k
    I've been struck by the lack of clarity in several recent discussions revolving around subjectivity, objectivity, truth and belief. Hence this thread, which I doubt will contain anything new, but only stuff that seems in need of repeating.

    Before commencing the main argument, it may be worth pointing out that belief and truth are not the same. One can believe stuff that is not true, as well as disbelieve stuff that is true. Believing something does not imply that it is true, and being true does not imply being believed. I mention this because it is a simple, but ubiquitous error, and may well underpin other problems.

    And so to the argument. The words subjective and objective are such that we are prone to allow them to lead us up and down various garden paths. It is especially important, therefore, to keep an eye on their use in mundane contexts.

    Certain statements are labeled subjective because they set out an individuals taste or feelings. In contrast, other statements are called objective, as they do not set out an individual's taste, feelings or opinions.

    So that I prefer vanilla to chocolate ice-cream is a subjective fact - or if you prefer, it is a subjective truth. It's truth is dependent on my own taste.

    That this text is written in English is not dependent on my own taste or feelings. Hence it is an objective truth.

    That's an end to it; don't allow the notions of subjectivity and objectivity to take on any more significance.

    in particular, don't pretend that there are either only subjective facts, or that there are only objective facts.
  • Banno
    5.1k
    Here's a simple test you might use to check if some fact is objective or subjective. Ask if it can be said in the first person.

    "Banno prefers vanilla ice to chocolate"; "This text is in English"

    Whereas I can put the first of these statements, my preference for vanilla ice, into the first person, I cannot do so with the second.

    If some truth can be said in the first person, it's likely to be a subjective fact.

    (Edited after @Hanover's reply, below.)
  • StreetlightX
    3.5k
    Can something objectively subjectively be the case?
  • Banno
    5.1k
    How could this come about?
  • StreetlightX
    3.5k
    That something be subjectively the case, objectively. That such and so is subjective, being objectively true.
  • Banno
    5.1k
    Belief?

    "Taste" and "feeling" are often accompanied in definitions of subjective by "opinion".

    Taste, feeling and belief are attitudinal. "I prefer..." "I feel..." "I believe..."

    So while a fact might be either subjective or objective, a belief can only be subjective.

    Hence, if someone were to confuse belief and truth, they might be mislead into concluding that all truth is subjective.

    It happens; but of course, not to any of us.
  • tim wood
    2.2k
    I personally really really do not want to fall a rabbit hole here, so my question is just for clarity's sake.
    revolving around subjectivity, objectivity, truth and belief.Banno
    This is about statements/propositions and nothing else, yes?
  • Banno
    5.1k
    Indeed, care is needed.

    So let's go with "Yes", in that it is statements that are true, subjective, objective, and believed.

    Do you have something in mind?
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    290
    Is "yes", then we must ask what a subjective statement is. And how is subjective truth verified without negating it in objectivity?
  • Hanover
    4.5k
    Here's a simple test you might use to check if some fact is objective or subjective. Ask if it can be said in the first person.Banno

    Your test isn't whether it can be said in first person, but any person. This is because "person" simply references perspective. That is I/you/he likes ice cream are all correct and they occur in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person. You posit by definition that the statement "the cat is on the mat" is objective, but that simply points out a grammatical difference in that the author of the sentence hasn't offered perspective.

    The metaphysical question is dodged by the diversion to grammar. The question still must be asked based upon whose perspective is the cat on the mat. If your answer is that it is a universal perspective, then I ask who had this universal perspective to author that sentence? If the answer is no one, then I can't fathom how that sentence got written.

    A last wrinkle as to pronoun perspectives a that there does exist an objective pronoun "one" ( 3rd person objective/4th person). "Banno should eat his green beans if he wants to be happy" is 3rd person, and per your rule subjective. As noted "I" and "he" (the 1st and 2nd perspectives) work as well and the sentence remains subjective. But what if "one" is substituted for "Banno" in that sentence? That is a pronoun driven objective statement.

    Note too the complications arisimg from the entry of the moral "should" in that sentence.

    And last:
    Any fact can be put into the third person. "Banno prefers vanilla ice to chocolate"; "This text is in English"Banno

    "This text is in English" is not third person. It's not in any person grammatically, but metaphysically it must be.
  • Banno
    5.1k
    Point taken.
    Ask if it can be said in the first person.Banno

    Not must.

    Can you say "the cat is on the mat" in first person? (or, yes, any person)

    Then isn't it objective?
  • Isaac
    579
    that belief and truth are not the same. One can believe stuff that is not true, as well as disbelieve stuff that is true. Believing something does not imply that it is true, and being true does not imply being believed.Banno

    All that you've proven there is that individual belief is not truth (ie that it is possible for at least some belief to contradict truth). You haven't proven that therefore belief sunsu lato is not the same as truth.
  • Banno
    5.1k
    "belief sensu lato"? Belief in what broad sense? A belief not had by someone? A belief had by everyone?
  • Hanover
    4.5k
    ""From my perspective, this sentence is in English" is first person perspective.

    "I like ice cream" defines "like" as "from my perspective." The grammatical limitations on the correct use of pronouns doesn't speak to the metaphysical perspective.

    How can one not have perspective? The view from nowhere?
  • Banno
    5.1k
    The view from nowhereHanover
    The view from anywhere.
  • Hanover
    4.5k
    Anywhere means: "From all places everyone has looked, the cat is on the mat." That is consensus subjective or is that just what you mean by objective?
  • Isaac
    579
    "belief sensu lato"? Belief in what broad sense? A belief not had by someone? A belief had by everyone?Banno

    Yes. That the word 'cat' refers to the feline genus is an objective fact (it is not my opinion). But it is only the case because it is believed to be so by a sufficiently large number of people to form a language community. 1+1=2 is not just my opinion either, it is true (if I believed 1+1=3 I would be wrong). But it too is only the case because it is believed to be by a sufficient number of people to form a mathematics community.
  • Banno
    5.1k
    But it is only the case because it is believed to be so by a sufficiently large number of people to form a language community.Isaac

    No; it is only so because the cat is on the mat.

    Truth is not a plebiscite.
  • Isaac
    579
    No; it is only so because the cat is on the mat.Banno

    What? Are you suggesting that the word 'cat' refers to the creature it does because "the cat is on the mat"? I don't even understand what that could mean.
  • Joshs
    549
    What about the meaning of a word used in a Wittgensteinian language game?
    is that subjective, objective or intersubjective?
  • ChrisH
    109
    So that I prefer vanilla to chocolate ice-cream is a subjective fact - or if you prefer, it is a subjective truth. It's truth is dependent on my own taste.Banno

    That's not how I've always understood the distinction. My take:

    "I prefer...", if stated sincerely, is objectively true - its truth is not dependent on anyone's opinion.

    "I prefer..." , if stated insincerely, is objectively untrue - its truth is not dependent on anyone's opinion.

    I've no idea if this is an idiosyncratic use, but I've certainly seen seen it put this way elsewhere.
  • Banno
    5.1k
    Anywhere means: "From all places everyone has looked, the cat is on the mat."Hanover

    As if there were no places we have not been...
  • Isaac
    579
    "I prefer...", if stated sincerely, is objectively true - its truth is not dependent on anyone's opinion.ChrisH

    But how does anyone tell if it is stated sincerely. Equating a sincere statement about one's own preference with objective truth, assumes one invariably reports one's preferences accurately (when one intends to).

    What would happen if neuroscience advanced to such a degree that we could measure tastes (say, some area of the brain lights up in response to what we call 'liking' vanilla). If a person sincerely thought they did not like vanilla, but these future neuroscientists had a look and confirmed they did indeed like vanilla, would their sincere statement of preference be true still. Would that make the judgment of the neuroscientists false?
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    290
    I still can't grasp the notion of a subjective statement, given that a statement belongs to the objective as written or spoken expression. All I have seen so far are objective statements that refer to or imply subjectivity, but are not subjective in themselves. At this point, subjective statement appears as a contradiction of terms, and like square circle, it is nonsense.
  • leo
    206
    No; it is only so because the cat is on the mat.

    Truth is not a plebiscite.
    Banno

    You see what you call a cat on what you call a mat, how does that make it not a subjective statement? Other people might disagree that what they see is a cat or a mat. You would only consider it an objective fact if people agree with you. But if you consider it an objective fact even if people don't agree with you then you consider your subjective experience to be what determines objectivity or truth, if you see something you see it as objective fact or truth even if other people don't see it.
  • Banno
    5.1k
    No more than you are suggesting that "the cat is on the mat" is true, and yet "le chat est sur le tapis" is not.

    "le chat est sur le tapis" is true if and only if the cat is on the mat.
  • Isaac
    579
    No more than you are suggesting that "the cat is on the mat" is true, and yet "le chat est sur le tapis" is not.Banno

    Where did I suggest such a thing? I haven't even mentioned mats. I spoke only about the meaning of the word 'cat'. The thing 'cat' (or 'chat') refers to.

    Is it true or false that, in English, 'cat' refers to a member of the feline genus? If this is 'true', then how is it so?
  • Banno
    5.1k
    Ok. you lost me. I must have misunderstood you.

    Why talk about meaning here?
  • Banno
    5.1k
    @Hanover

    Do you insist that every sentence has an implied perspective?
  • Isaac
    579


    You said that truth and belief must be two separate things because it is possible to believe something which is untrue, right?

    I'm arguing that this only proves that an individual's belief can be untrue, which leaves open the possibility for truth to be collective belief (but still belief).

    The example I gave was the meaning of a class term 'cat'. Such terms are often held to be rigid designators and I think most would say that it is 'true' that 'cat', in English, refers (at least fairly rigidly) to members of the feline genus.

    But 'cat' only refers this way because a large enough community of people believe it does (by believe here I'm using a Ramsey, behaviourist account, ie they act as if it were). It is not a fact of the world that 'cat' means what it does, it is merely a fact of collective belief.

    The other example I gave is mathematics.

    Now you could dispute the account of belief among the community of language users, but you'd have to then apply that same new account to the individual belief.

    Equally you could argue that 'cat' meaning what it does is now a fact of the world. Maybe it now is discoverable by canvassing language users or consulting a dictionary. But, presuming you're at least familiar with Wittgenstein, we both know what problems such an account of meaning leads to.
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