Objectivity (philosophy)

Objectivity (philosophy)

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Objectivity is a central philosophical
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 concept which has been variously defined by sources. A proposition is generally considered to be objectively true when its truth conditions are met and are "mind-independent"—that is, not met by the judgment of a conscious entity or subject.

Objectivism



"Objectivism" is a term that describes a branch of philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 that originated in the early nineteenth century. Gottlob Frege
Gottlob Frege
Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege was a German mathematician, logician and philosopher. He is considered to be one of the founders of modern logic, and made major contributions to the foundations of mathematics. He is generally considered to be the father of analytic philosophy, for his writings on...

 was the first to apply it, when he expounded an epistemological and metaphysical
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

 theory contrary to that of Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

. Kant's rationalism
Rationalism
In epistemology and in its modern sense, rationalism is "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification" . In more technical terms, it is a method or a theory "in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive"...

 attempted to reconcile the failures he perceived in realism
Philosophical realism
Contemporary philosophical realism is the belief that our reality, or some aspect of it, is ontologically independent of our conceptual schemes, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc....

, empiricism
Empiricism
Empiricism is a theory of knowledge that asserts that knowledge comes only or primarily via sensory experience. One of several views of epistemology, the study of human knowledge, along with rationalism, idealism and historicism, empiricism emphasizes the role of experience and evidence,...

, and idealism
Idealism
In philosophy, idealism is the family of views which assert that reality, or reality as we can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, idealism manifests as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing...

 and to establish a critical method of approach in the distinction between epistemology and metaphysics.

Objectivism, in this context, is an alternative name for philosophical realism
Philosophical realism
Contemporary philosophical realism is the belief that our reality, or some aspect of it, is ontologically independent of our conceptual schemes, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc....

, the view that there is a reality
Reality
In philosophy, reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined. In a wider definition, reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible...

, or ontological realm of objects and facts, that exists independent of the mind. Stronger versions of this claim hold that there is only one correct description of this reality. If it is true that reality is mind-independent, then reality might include objects that are unknown to consciousness and thus might include objects not the subject of intensionality. Objectivity in referring requires a definition of truth
Truth
Truth has a variety of meanings, such as the state of being in accord with fact or reality. It can also mean having fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal. In a common usage, it also means constancy or sincerity in action or character...

. According to metaphysical objectivists, an object may truthfully be said to have this or that attribute, as in the statement "This object exists," whereas the statement "This object is true" or "false" is meaningless. For them, only propositions have truth values. Essentially, the terms "objectivity" and "objectivism" are not synonymous, with objectivism being an ontological theory that incorporates a commitment
Ontological commitment
In the philosophy of language and metaphysics, an ontological commitment is said to be necessary in order to make a proposition in which the existence of one thing is presupposed or implied by asserting the existence of another. We are “committed” to the existence of the second thing, even though...

 to the objectivity of objects.

Plato's realism
Platonic idealism
Platonic idealism usually refers to Plato's theory of forms or doctrine of ideas,Some commentators hold Plato argued that truth is an abstraction...

 was a form of metaphysical objectivism, holding that the Ideas exist objectively and independently. Berkeley's
George Berkeley
George Berkeley , also known as Bishop Berkeley , was an Irish philosopher whose primary achievement was the advancement of a theory he called "immaterialism"...

 empiricist idealism
Idealism
In philosophy, idealism is the family of views which assert that reality, or reality as we can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, idealism manifests as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing...

, on the other hand, could be called a subjectivism: he held that things only exist to the extent that they are perceived. Both theories claim methods of objectivity. Plato's definition of objectivity can be found in his epistemology
Platonic epistemology
Platonic epistemology holds that knowledge is innate, so that learning is the development of ideas buried deep in the soul, often under the midwife-like guidance of an interrogator. In several dialogues by Plato, Socrates presents the view that each soul existed before birth with "The Form of the...

, which takes as a model mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

, and his metaphysics, where knowledge of the ontological status of objects and ideas is resistant to change. Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 considered knowledge of geometry
Geometry
Geometry arose as the field of knowledge dealing with spatial relationships. Geometry was one of the two fields of pre-modern mathematics, the other being the study of numbers ....

 as a condition of philosophical knowledge, both being concerned with universal
Universal (metaphysics)
In metaphysics, a universal is what particular things have in common, namely characteristics or qualities. In other words, universals are repeatable or recurrent entities that can be instantiated or exemplified by many particular things. For example, suppose there are two chairs in a room, each of...

 truths. Plato's opposition between objective knowledge and doxa
Doxa
Doxa is a Greek word meaning common belief or popular opinion, from which are derived the modern terms of orthodoxy and heterodoxy.Used by the Greek rhetoricians as a tool for the formation of argument by using common opinions, the doxa was often manipulated by sophists to persuade the people,...

(opinions) would become the basis for later philosophies intent on resolving the problem of reality, knowledge and human existence. Personal opinions belong to the changing sphere of the sensible, opposed to a fixed and eternal incorporeal
Incorporeal
Incorporeal or uncarnate means without the nature of a body or substance . The idea of incorporeality refers to the notion that there is an incorporeal realm of existence, or "place", that is distinct from the corporeal or material universe. Incorporeal beings or objects are not made out of matter...

 realm which is mutually intelligible. Where Plato distinguishes between what and how
we know things (epistemology) and their ontological status as things (metaphysics), subjectivism such as Berkeley's and a mind dependence of knowledge and reality fails to make the distinction between what one knows and what is to be known, or in the least explains the distinction superficially. In Platonic terms, a criticism of subjectivism is that it is difficult to distinguish between knowledge, doxa, and subjective knowledge (true belief), distinctions which Plato makes.

The importance of perception in evaluating and understanding objective reality is debated. Realists argue that perception is key in directly observing objective reality, while instrumentalists
Instrumentalism
In the philosophy of science, instrumentalism is the view that a scientific theory is a useful instrument in understanding the world. A concept or theory should be evaluated by how effectively it explains and predicts phenomena, as opposed to how accurately it describes objective...

 hold that perception is not necessarily useful in directly observing objective reality, but is useful in interpreting and predicting reality. The concepts that encompasses these ideas are important in the philosophy of science
Philosophy of science
The philosophy of science is concerned with the assumptions, foundations, methods and implications of science. It is also concerned with the use and merit of science and sometimes overlaps metaphysics and epistemology by exploring whether scientific results are actually a study of truth...

.

Ethical subjectivism



The term, "ethical subjectivism," covers two distinct theories in ethics. According to cognitive versions of ethical subjectivism, the truth of moral statements depends upon people's values, attitudes, feelings, or beliefs. Some forms of cognitivist ethical subjectivism can be counted as forms of realism, others are forms of anti-realism. David Hume is a foundational figure for cognitive ethical subjectivism. On a standard interpretation of his theory, a trait of character counts as a moral virtue when it evokes a sentiment of approbation in a sympathetic, informed, and rational human observer. Similarly, Roderick Firth's ideal observer theory
Ideal observer theory
Ideal observer theory is the meta-ethical view which claims that:# Ethical sentences express propositions.# Some such propositions are true.# Those propositions are about the attitudes of a hypothetical ideal observer....

 held that right acts are those that an impartial, rational observer would approve of. William James, another ethical subjectivist, held that an end is good (to or for a person) just in case it is desired by that person (see also ethical egoism
Ethical egoism
Ethical egoism is the normative ethical position that moral agents ought to do what is in their own self-interest. It differs from psychological egoism, which claims that people can only act in their self-interest. Ethical egoism also differs from rational egoism, which holds merely that it is...

). According to non-cognitive versions of ethical subjectivism, such as emotivism, prescriptivism, and expressivism, ethical statements cannot be true or false, at all: rather, they are expressions of personal feelings or commands. For example, on A. J. Ayer's
Alfred Ayer
Sir Alfred Jules "Freddie" Ayer was a British philosopher known for his promotion of logical positivism, particularly in his books Language, Truth, and Logic and The Problem of Knowledge ....

 emotivism, the statement, "Murder is wrong" is equivalent in meaning to the emotive, "Murder, Boo!"

Ethical objectivism



According to the ethical objectivist, the truth or falsity of typical moral judgments does not depend upon the beliefs or feelings of any person or group of persons. This view holds that moral propositions are analogous to propositions about chemistry, biology, or history: they describe (or fail to describe) a mind-independent reality. When they describe it accurately, they are true—no matter what anyone believes, hopes, wishes, or feels. When they fail to describe this mind-independent moral reality, they are false—no matter what anyone believes, hopes, wishes, or feels. There are many versions of ethical objectivism, including various religious views of morality, Platonistic intuitionism, Kantianism
Kantianism
Kantianism is the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, a German philosopher born in Königsberg, Prussia . The term Kantianism or Kantian is sometimes also used to describe contemporary positions in philosophy of mind, epistemology, and ethics.-Ethics:Kantian ethics are deontological, revolving entirely...

, utilitarianism
Utilitarianism
Utilitarianism is an ethical theory holding that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes the overall "happiness", by whatever means necessary. It is thus a form of consequentialism, meaning that the moral worth of an action is determined only by its resulting outcome, and that one can...

, and certain forms of ethical egoism
Ethical egoism
Ethical egoism is the normative ethical position that moral agents ought to do what is in their own self-interest. It differs from psychological egoism, which claims that people can only act in their self-interest. Ethical egoism also differs from rational egoism, which holds merely that it is...

 and contractualism
Contractualism
Contractualism can refer to two different positions. First, it can to refer to moral theories based on social contract theory, also known as contractarianism, which argue that what people ought to do is determined by contracts or agreements reached between those people. Second, the term was used by...

. Note that Platonists define ethical objectivism in an even more narrow way, so that it requires the existence of intrinsic value. Consequently, they reject the idea that contractualists or egoists could be ethical objectivists.

See also


  • Epistemology
  • Subject-object problem
    Subject-object problem
    The subject–object problem, a longstanding philosophical issue, is concerned with the analysis of human experience, and of what within experience is "subjective" and what is "objective."...

  • Objectivity (journalism)
    Objectivity (journalism)
    Parent article: Journalism ethics and standardsObjectivity is a significant principle of journalistic professionalism. Journalistic objectivity can refer to fairness, disinterestedness, factuality, and nonpartisanship, but most often encompasses all of these qualities.- Definitions :In the context...

  • Objectivity (science)
    Objectivity (science)
    Objectivity in science is a value that informs how science is practiced and how scientific truths are created. It is the idea that scientists, in attempting to uncover truths about the natural world, must aspire to eliminate personal biases, a priori commitments, emotional involvement, etc...

  • Philosophical realism
    Philosophical realism
    Contemporary philosophical realism is the belief that our reality, or some aspect of it, is ontologically independent of our conceptual schemes, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc....

  • Moral objectivism
    Moral objectivism
    Moral objectivism may refer to:* Robust moral realism, the meta-ethical position that ethical sentences express factual propositions about robust or mind-independent features of the world, and that some such propositions are true....

  • Objectivism
    Objectivism
    Objectivism or Objectivist may refer to:* Any standpoint that stresses objectivity, including;* Philosophical objectivity, realism, the conviction that reality is mind-independent* Moral objectivism, the view that some ethics are absolute...


Further reading

  • Bachelard, Gaston
    Gaston Bachelard
    Gaston Bachelard was a French philosopher. He made contributions in the fields of poetics and the philosophy of science. To the latter he introduced the concepts of epistemological obstacle and epistemological break...

    . La formation de l'esprit scientifique : contribution à une psychanalyse de la connaissance. Paris: Vrin, 2004 ISBN 2-7116-1150-7 .
  • Castillejo, David. The Formation of Modern Objectivity. Madrid: Ediciones de Arte y Bibliofilia, 1982.
  • Kuhn, Thomas S.. The structure of scientific revolutions
    The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
    The Structure of Scientific Revolutions , by Thomas Kuhn, is an analysis of the history of science. Its publication was a landmark event in the history, philosophy, and sociology of scientific knowledge and it triggered an ongoing worldwide assessment and reaction in — and beyond — those scholarly...

    . Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996, 3° ed. ISBN 0-226-45808-3
  • Megill, Allan. Rethinking Objectivity. London: Duke UP, 1994.
  • Nagel, Ernest
    Ernest Nagel
    Ernest Nagel was a Czech-American philosopher of science. Along with Rudolf Carnap, Hans Reichenbach, and Carl Hempel, he is sometimes seen as one of the major figures of the logical positivist movement....

    . The Structure of Science. New York: Brace and World, 1961.
  • Nagel, Thomas
    Thomas Nagel
    Thomas Nagel is an American philosopher, currently University Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University, where he has taught since 1980. His main areas of philosophical interest are philosophy of mind, political philosophy and ethics...

    . The View from Nowhere. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1986
  • Nozick, Robert
    Robert Nozick
    Robert Nozick was an American political philosopher, most prominent in the 1970s and 1980s. He was a professor at Harvard University. He is best known for his book Anarchy, State, and Utopia , a right-libertarian answer to John Rawls's A Theory of Justice...

    . Invariances: the structure of the objective world. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2001.
  • Popper, Karl. R.
    Karl Popper
    Sir Karl Raimund Popper, CH FRS FBA was an Austro-British philosopher and a professor at the London School of Economics...

    . Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach. Oxford University Press, 1972, trade paperback, 395 pages, ISBN 0-19-875024-2 , hardcover is out of print
    Out of print
    Out of print refers to an item, typically a book , but can include any print or visual media or sound recording, that is in the state of no longer being published....

    . See libraries.
  • Rescher, Nicholas
    Nicholas Rescher
    Nicholas Rescher is an American philosopher at the University of Pittsburgh. In a productive research career extending over six decades, Rescher has established himself as a systematic philosopher of the old style and author of a system of pragmatic idealism which weaves together threads of...

    . Objectivity: the obligations of impersonal reason. Notre Dame: Notre Dame Press, 1977.
  • Rorty, Richard
    Richard Rorty
    Richard McKay Rorty was an American philosopher. He had a long and diverse academic career, including positions as Stuart Professor of Philosophy at Princeton, Kenan Professor of Humanities at the University of Virginia, and Professor of Comparative Literature at Stanford University...

    . Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991
  • Rousset, Bernard. La théorie kantienne de l'objectivité, Paris: Vrin, 1967.
  • Schaeffler, Israel. Science and Subjectivity. Hackett, 1982. Voices of Wisdom; a multicutural philosophy reader. kessler

External links