Objectivity (philosophy)

Objectivity is a philosophical concept of being true independently from individual subjectivity caused by perception, emotions, or imagination. A proposition is considered to have objective truth when its truth conditions are met without bias caused by a sentient subject. Scientific objectivity refers to the ability to judge without partiality or external influence, sometimes used synonymously with neutrality.

Objectivity of knowledge

Plato considered geometry a condition of idealism concerned with universal truth. His contrasting between objectivity and opinion became the basis for philosophies intent on resolving the questions of reality, truth, and existence. He saw opinions as belonging to the shifting sphere of sensibilities, as opposed to a fixed, eternal and knowable incorporeality. Where Plato distinguished between how we know things and their ontological status, subjectivism such as George Berkeley's depends on perception.[1] In Platonic terms, a criticism of subjectivism is that it is difficult to distinguish between knowledge, opinions, and subjective knowledge.[2]

Platonic idealism is a form of metaphysical objectivism, holding that the ideas exist independently from the individual. Berkeley's empirical idealism, on the other hand, holds that things only exist as they are perceived. Both approaches boast an attempt at objectivity. Plato's definition of objectivity can be found in his epistemology, which is based on mathematics, and his metaphysics, where knowledge of the ontological status of objects and ideas is resistant to change.[1]

In opposition to philosopher René Descartes' method of personal deduction, natural philosopher Isaac Newton applied the relatively objective scientific method to look for evidence before forming a hypothesis.[3] Partially in response to Kant's rationalism, logician Gottlob Frege applied objectivity to his epistemological and metaphysical philosophies. If reality exists independently of consciousness, then it would logically include a plurality of indescribable forms. Objectivity requires a definition of truth formed by propositions with truth value. An attempt of forming an objective construct incorporates ontological commitments to the reality of objects.[4]

The importance of perception in evaluating and understanding objective reality is debated in the observer effect of quantum mechanics. Direct or naïve realists rely on perception as key in observing objective reality, while instrumentalists hold that observations are useful in predicting objective reality. The concepts that encompass these ideas are important in the philosophy of science. Philosophies of mind explore whether objectivity relies on perceptual constancy.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7] Similarly, Roderick Firth's ideal observer theory held that right acts are those that an impartial, rational observer would approve of.[8] William James, another ethical subjectivist, held that an end is good (to or for a person) just in the 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.[9] For example, on A. J. Ayer's emotivism, the statement, "Murder is wrong" is equivalent in meaning to the emotive, "Murder, Boo!"[10]

Ethical objectivism

According to the ethical objectivist, the truth or falsehood 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, in so much as they are true despite 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 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. Objectivism, in turn, places primacy on the origin of the frame of reference—and, as such, considers any arbitrary frame of reference ultimately a form of ethical subjectivism by a transitive property, even when the frame incidentally coincides with reality and can be used for measurements.

Moral objectivism and relativism

Moral objectivism is the view that what is right or wrong doesn’t depend on what anyone thinks is right or wrong. An example of such will be categorical imperative philosophy by Immanuel Kant, which coined the following: "Act only according to that maxim [i.e., rule] whereby you can at the same time will that it become a universal law." John Stuart Mill was a consequential thinker and therefore proposed utilitarianism which explains that in any situation, the right thing to do is whatever is likely to produce the most happiness overall. When it comes to relativism, a Russian philosopher and writer, Fyodor Dostoevsky, used to coin the phrase "If God doesn't exist, everything is permissible". That phrase was his explanation of how decline in religion affects our moral thinking. An American anthropologist Ruth Benedict, used to argue that there is no single objective morality and that morality varies with culture.[11]

See also


  1. ^ a b E. Douka Kabîtoglou (1991). "Shelley and Berkeley: The Platonic Connection" (PDF): 20–35.
  2. ^ Mary Margaret Mackenzie (1985). "Plato's moral theory" (PDF). Journal of Medical Ethics. 11: 88–91.
  3. ^ Suzuki, Fumitaka (March 2012). "The Cogito Proposition of Descartes and Characteristics of His Ego Theory" (PDF). Bulletin of Aichi University of Education. 61: 73–80.
  4. ^ Clinton Tolley. "Kant on the Generality of Logic" (PDF). University of California, San Diego.
  5. ^ Tyler Burge, Origins of Objectivity, Oxford University Press, 2010.
  6. ^ Thomas Pölzler (2018). "How to Measure Moral Realism". 9 (3): 647–670. doi:10.1007/s13164-018-0401-8.
  7. ^ Rayner, Sam (2005). "Hume's Moral Philosophy". Macalester Journal of Philosophy. 14 (1): 6–21.
  8. ^ "A Substantive Revision to Firth's Ideal Observer Theory" (PDF). Stance. Ball State University. 3: 55–61. April 2010.
  9. ^ Sarin Marchetti (2010). "William James on Truth and Invention in Morality". European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy. doi:10.4000/ejpap.910. ISSN 2036-4091. OCLC 664682806.
  10. ^ "24.231 Ethics – Handout 3 Ayer's Emotivism" (PDF). Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  11. ^ "Moral Relativism and Objectivism". University of California, Santa Cruz. Retrieved 20 February 2019.

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, 3rd 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. ISBN 0-19-875024-2.
  • 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.
  • Scheffler, Israel. Science and Subjectivity. Hackett, 1982. Voices of Wisdom; a multicultural philosophy reader. kessler

External links

Advocacy journalism

Advocacy journalism is a genre of journalism that intentionally and transparently adopts a non-objective viewpoint, usually for some social or political purpose. Because it is intended to be factual, it is distinguished from propaganda. It is also distinct from instances of media bias and failures of objectivity in media outlets, since the bias is intended.

Some advocacy journalists reject that the traditional ideal of objectivity is possible in practice, either generally, or due to the presence of corporate sponsors in advertising. Some feel that the public interest is better served by a diversity of media outlets with a variety of transparent points of view, or that advocacy journalism serves a similar role to muckrakers or whistleblowers.

Archimedean point

An Archimedean point (or "Punctum Archimedis") is a hypothetical vantage point from which an observer can objectively perceive the subject of inquiry, with a view of totality. The ideal of "removing oneself" from the object of study so that one can see it in relation to all other things, but remain independent of them, is described by a view from an Archimedean point. For example, the philosopher John Rawls uses the heuristic device of the original position in an attempt to remove the particular biases of individual agents in an attempt to demonstrate how rational beings might arrive at an objective formulation of justice.The expression comes from Archimedes, who supposedly claimed that he could lift the Earth off its foundation if he were given a place to stand, one solid point, and a long enough lever. This is also mentioned in Descartes' second meditation with regard to finding certainty, the 'unmovable point' Archimedes sought.Sceptical and anti-realist philosophers criticise the possibility of an Archimedean point, claiming it is a form of scientism, for example;

We can no more separate our theories and concepts from our data and percepts than we can find a true Archimedean point—a god’s-eye view—of ourselves and our world.

Environmental journalism

Environmental journalism is the collection, verification, production, distribution and exhibition of information regarding current events, trends, issues and people that are associated with the non-human world with which humans necessarily interact. To be an environmental journalist, one must have an understanding of scientific language and practice, knowledge of historical environmental events, the ability to keep abreast of environmental policy decisions and the work of environmental organizations, a general understanding of current environmental concerns, and the ability to communicate all of that information to the public in such a way that it can be easily understood, despite its complexity.

Environmental journalism falls within the scope of environmental communication, and its roots can be traced to nature writing. One key controversy in environmental journalism is a continuing disagreement over how to distinguish it from its allied genres and disciplines.

Feminist philosophy of science

Feminist philosophy of science is a branch of feminist philosophy that seeks to understand how the acquirement of knowledge through scientific means has been influenced by notions of gender and gender roles in society. Feminist philosophers of science question how scientific research and scientific knowledge itself may be influenced and possibly compromised by the social and professional framework within which that research and knowledge is established and exists. It has been described as being located "at the intersections of the philosophy of science and feminist science scholarship", and has attracted considerable attention since the 1970s.

Feminist epistemology often emphasizes "situated knowledge" that hinges on one's individual perspectives on a subject. Feminist philosophers often highlight the under-representation of female scientists in academia and the possibility that science currently has androcentric biases. Scientific theory has been accused of being more compatible with male cognitive styles and reasoning. Feminist epistemology suggests that integrating feminine modes of thought and logic that are undervalued by current scientific theory will enable improvement and broadening of scientific perspectives. Advocates assert that it may be guide in creating a philosophy of science that is more accessible to public. Practitioners of feminist philosophy of science also seek to promote gender equality in scientific fields and greater recognition of the achievements of female scientists.

Critics have argued that the political commitments of advocates of feminist philosophy of science is incompatible with modern-day scientific objectivity, emphasizing the success of the scientific method due to its lauded objectivity and "value-free" methods of knowledge-making.


Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism and empiricism) over acceptance of dogma or superstition. The meaning of the term humanism has fluctuated according to the successive intellectual movements which have identified with it. The term was coined by theologian Friedrich Niethammer at the beginning of the 19th century to refer to a system of education based on the study of classical literature ("classical humanism"). Generally, however, humanism refers to a perspective that affirms some notion of human freedom and progress. It views humans as solely responsible for the promotion and development of individuals and emphasizes a concern for man in relation to the world.In modern times, humanist movements are typically non-religious movements aligned with secularism, and today humanism typically refers to a nontheistic life stance centred on human agency and looking to science rather than revelation from a supernatural source to understand the world.


Impartiality (also called evenhandedness or fair-mindedness) is a principle of justice holding that decisions should be based on objective criteria, rather than on the basis of bias, prejudice, or preferring the benefit to one person over another for improper reasons.

Intersubjective verifiability

Intersubjective verifiability is the capacity of a concept to be readily and accurately communicated between different individuals ("intersubjectively"), and to be reproduced under varying circumstances for the purposes of verification. It is a core principle of empirical, scientific investigation.Although there are areas of belief that do not consistently employ intersubjective verifiability (e.g., many religious claims), intersubjective verifiability is a near-universal way of arbitrating truth claims used by people everywhere. In its basic form, it can be found in colloquial expressions, e.g., "I'm from Missouri. Show me!" or "Seeing is believing". The scientific principle of replication of findings by investigators other than those that first reported the phenomenon is simply a more highly structured form of the universal principle of intersubjective verifiability.

Kitsch movement

Kitsch painting is an international movement of classical painters founded upon a 24 September 1998 speech and philosophy by the Norwegian artist, Odd Nerdrum, later clarified in his book On Kitsch with Jan-Ove Tuv and others. The movement incorporates the techniques of the Old Masters with narrative, romanticism, and emotionally charged imagery. The movement defines Kitsch as synonymous with the arts of ancient Rome or the techne of ancient Greece. Kitsch painters embrace kitsch as a positive term not in opposition to "art", but as its own independent superstructure. Kitsch painters assert that Kitsch is not an art movement, but a philosophical movement separate from art. The Kitsch movement has been considered an indirect criticism of the contemporary art world, but according to Nerdrum and many Kitsch painters, this is not their expressed intention.

Object (philosophy)

An object is a technical term in modern philosophy often used in contrast to the term subject. A subject is an observer and an object is a thing observed. For modern philosophers like Descartes, consciousness is a state of cognition that includes the subject—which can never be doubted as only it can be the one who doubts—and some object(S) that may be considered as not having real or full existence or value independent of the subject who observes it. Metaphysical frameworks also differ in whether they consider objects existing independently of their properties and, if so, in what way.The pragmatist Charles S. Peirce defines the broad notion of an object as anything that we can think or talk about. In a general sense it is any entity: the pyramids, Alpha Centauri, the number seven, a disbelief in predestination or the fear of cats. In a strict sense it refers to any definite being.

A related notion is objecthood. Objecthood is the state of being an object. One approach to defining it is in terms of objects' properties and relations. Descriptions of all bodies, minds, and persons must be in terms of their properties and relations. The philosophical question of the nature of objecthood concerns how objects are related to their properties and relations. For example, it seems that the only way to describe an apple is by describing its properties and how it is related to other things. Its properties may include its redness, its size, and its composition, while its relations may include "on the table", "in the room" and "being bigger than other apples".

The notion of an object must address two problems: the change problems and the problems of substances. Two leading theories about objecthood are substance theory, wherein substances (objects) are distinct from their properties, and bundle theory, wherein objects are no more than bundles of their properties.

Objective approach

Taking an objective approach to an issue means having due regard for the known valid evidence (relevant facts, logical implications and viewpoints and human purposes) pertaining to that issue. If relevant valid evidence is denied, an objective approach is impossible. An objective approach is particularly important in science, and in decision-making processes which affect large numbers of people (e.g. politics).


Objectivism, or Objectivist, may refer to:

Any standpoint that stresses objectivity, including:

Objectivity (philosophy), the conviction that reality is mind-independent

Objectivity (science), a value in science that informs the practice of science and discovery of scientific truths

Anti-psychologism, or logical objectivism, the conviction that the rules of logic are mind-independent

Moral universalism or moral objectivism, the view that some ethics are absolute

Objectivism (Ayn Rand), a philosophical system created by Ayn Rand that declares real knowledge to be metaphysically objective

The Objectivist movement, a movement formed by followers and students of Rand's philosophy

The Objectivist Party, an American political party espousing Rand's philosophy

Objectivism (poetry), a group of Modernist writers who emerged in the 1930s


Objectivity can refer to:

Objectivity (philosophy), the property of being independent from perception

Objectivity (science), the goal of eliminating personal biases in the practice of science

Journalistic objectivity, encompassing fairness, disinterestedness, factuality, and nonpartisanship

Principle of material objectivity, a principle in continuum mechanics

Objectivity/DB, an object-oriented database management system produced by Objectivity

Objectivity (science)

Objectivity in science is an attempt to uncover truths about the natural world by eliminating personal biases, emotions, and false beliefs. It is often linked to observation as part of the scientific method. It is thus intimately related to the aim of testability and reproducibility. To be considered objective, the results of measurement must be communicated from person to person, and then demonstrated for third parties, as an advance in a collective understanding of the world. Such demonstrable knowledge has ordinarily conferred demonstrable powers of prediction or technology.

The problem of philosophical objectivity is contrasted with personal subjectivity, sometimes exacerbated by the overgeneralization of a hypothesis to the whole. E.g. Newton's law of universal gravitation appears to be the norm for the attraction between celestial bodies, but it was later superseded by the more general theory of relativity.

Peer review

Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competences as the producers of the work (peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a profession within the relevant field. Peer review methods are used to maintain quality standards, improve performance, and provide credibility. In academia, scholarly peer review is often used to determine an academic paper's suitability for publication. Peer review can be categorized by the type of activity and by the field or profession in which the activity occurs, e.g., medical peer review.

Scientific community

The scientific community is a diverse network of interacting scientists. It includes many "sub-communities" working on particular scientific fields, and within particular institutions; interdisciplinary and cross-institutional activities are also significant. Objectivity is expected to be achieved by the scientific method. Peer review, through discussion and debate within journals and conferences, assists in this objectivity by maintaining the quality of research methodology and interpretation of results.

St Goban

St. Goban, St. Gobban, or St. Gobhan is the name of various Saints of early Christian Ireland. However the ecclesiastic integrity and merit of the Saint(s) is often debased by confusing, composite attempted biographies. However by applying objectivity (philosophy) to the analysis of references in pertinent hagiography and eminent biographies we can reach a constructive conclusion; that the number of references to a St. Gobban far outweighs those of a St. Goban. and that the references to St.Gobban link this saint to St Laserian's Cathedral, Old Leighlin plus Killamery:Cell Lamraidhe and identify this saint as Gobban Find mac Lugdach alternatively anglicized as St. Gobhan.

View from nowhere

In journalism ethics and media ethics, the term "view from nowhere" refers to a theory about the potential negative effects of neutrality in reporting, whereby journalists may disinform their audience by creating the impression that opposing parties to an issue have equal correctness and validity, even when the truth or falsehood of the parties' claims are mutually exclusive and verifiable by a diligent researcher. Media critic and professor of journalism Jay Rosen has been a notable promoter of the term and critic of the practice, and Rosen borrowed the term from philosopher Thomas Nagel's 1986 book The View From Nowhere.

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