Objectivity (philosophy): Wikis

  

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Objectivity is both a central and elusive concept in philosophy. While there is no universally accepted articulation of objectivity, a proposition is generally considered to be objectively true when its truth conditions are "mind-independent"—that is, not the result of any judgments made by a conscious entity. Contrary to this, most recent philosophers, since the Critique of Pure Reason (1781) by Immanuel Kant, have concluded that scientific knowledge is systematic knowledge of the nature of existing things as we perceive them rather than they are in themselves.

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Objectivity and subjectivity

In philosophy, an objective fact means a truth that remains true everywhere, independently of human thought, feelings, and tools or calculations capable of being skewed by subjective means. A subjective fact is one that is only true under certain conditions, at certain times, in certain places, or for certain people.

Immanuel Kant used the expression “Ding an sich” (the “thing-in-itself”) to designate pure objectivity. The Ding an sich is the object as it is in itself, independent of the features of any subjective perception of it. While Locke was optimistic about scientific knowledge of the true objective (primary) characteristics of things, Kant, influenced by skeptical arguments from David Hume, asserted that we can know nothing regarding the true nature of the Ding an sich, other than that it exists. Scientific knowledge, according to Kant, is systematic knowledge of the nature of things as they appear to us subjects rather than as they are in themselves.

The very term objectivity is in question around the world; many scholars have now concluded the proper term lies closer to a collective subjectivity on what we all can agree to be independent of any one person's opinion or perspective.

The scientific virtues

Some people regard science as objective in this sense and this objectivity in science is often attributed with the property of scientific measurement that can be tested independent from the individual scientist (the subject) who proposes them.[citation needed] It is thus intimately related to the aim of testability and reproducibility. To be properly considered objective, the results of measurement must be communicated from person to person, and then demonstrated for third parties, as an advance in understanding of the objective world. Such demonstrable knowledge would ordinarily confer demonstrable powers of prediction or technological construction.[citation needed]

However, this traditional view about objectivity ignores several things. First, the selection of the specific object to measure is typically a subjective decision and it often involves reductionism. Second, and potentially much more problematic, is the selection of instruments (tools) and the selection of the measurement methodology. Some features or qualities of the object under study will be ignored in the measurement process and the limitations of the chosen instruments will cause data to be left out of consideration. In addition to these absolute limits of objectivity surrounding the measurement process, any given community of researchers often shares certain "subjective views" and this subjectivity is therefore built in to the conceptual systems; and it can even be built in to the design of the tools used for measurement. Total objectivity is arguably not even possible in some—or maybe all—situations.

Objectivism

"Objectivism" is a term that describes a branch of philosophy that originated in the early nineteenth century. Gottlob Frege was the first to apply it, when he expounded an epistemological and metaphysical theory contrary to that of Immanuel Kant. Kant's rationalism attempted to reconcile the failures he perceived in realism, empiricism, and idealism and to establish a critical method of approach in the distinction between epistemology and metaphysics.

Objectivism, in this context, is an alternate name for philosophical realism, the view that there is a reality or ontological realm of objects and facts that exists independent of the mind. Stronger versions of this claim might hold that there is only one correct description of this reality. If it is true that reality is mind-independent, it is thus inclusive of objects that are unknown and not the subject of intentionality. Objectivity in referring requires a definition of truth. 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. Thus, only propositions have truth values. Essentially, the terms "objectivity" and "objectivism" are not synonymous, with objectivism being an ontological theory that incorporates a commitment to the objectivity of objects.

Plato's realism was a form of metaphysical objectivism, holding that the Ideas exist objectively and independently. Berkeley's empiricist idealism, 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, which takes as a model mathematics, and his metaphysics, where knowledge of the ontological status of objects and ideas is resistant to change. Plato considered knowledge of geometry as a condition of philosophical knowledge, both being concerned with universal truths. Plato's opposition between objective knowledge and doxa (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 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 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.

Objectivity in ethics

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

Ethical objectivism

Main article: Moral realism

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, utilitarianism, and certain forms of ethical egoism[citation needed] and contractualism. 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

Further reading

  • Bachelard, Gaston. 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. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996, 3° ed. ISBN 0-226-45808-3
  • Megill, Allan. Rethinking Objectivity. London: Duke UP, 1994.
  • Nagel, Ernest. The Structure of Science. New York: Brace and World, 1961.
  • Nagel, Thomas. The View from Nowhere. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1986
  • Nozick, Robert. Invariances: the structure of the objective world. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2001.
  • Popper, Karl. R.. Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach. Oxford University Press, 1972, trade paperback, 395 pages, ISBN 0-19-875024-2 , hardcover is out of print. See libraries.
  • Rescher, Nicholas. Objectivity: the obligations of impersonal reason. Notre Dame: Notre Dame Press, 1977.
  • Rorty, Richard. 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

References


Simple English

Detached Objectivity is a philosophical method for a person separating their own ideas and opinions from the observations they make. Objective observations are true no matter who makes the observation. Being objective helps people focus on things that everyone can agree on. In science, being objective means you study things by making some kind of measurement, so your results are based on facts and not opinions.

The opposite of objectivity is subjectivity.









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