Objective vs Subjective Truth

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GE Morton
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Truth

Post by GE Morton » May 23rd, 2019, 6:33 pm

PS: It is also universally true, for speakers of English. For non-speakers it is, of course, meaningless.

Karpel Tunnel
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Truth

Post by Karpel Tunnel » May 25th, 2019, 7:08 am

GE Morton wrote:
May 23rd, 2019, 6:31 pm
Sculptor1 wrote:
May 23rd, 2019, 5:28 pm

Something as banal as "murder is wrong" is not devoid of subject or relationship. At best it is a tautology. But cannot be absolute or universal.
If it is a tautology (which it is) it is necessarily absolute. Tautologies are the only propositions absolutely true.
It's kind of like the uncertainty principle, in a floppy, analogy way. You can know one thing, but not something else. Tautologies offer certainty, but no information. Murder is wrong because murder means wrong killing. And then we are left with considering if Mr. Hanson was right to kill Mrs. Henderson on Tuesday with the lawnmower and we have no more information to help us determine it.

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Arjen
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Truth

Post by Arjen » May 25th, 2019, 11:01 am

Sculptor1 wrote:
May 23rd, 2019, 5:28 pm

What people claim for "objectivity" often outweighs the truth that such statements are limited to "intersubjectivity". Sadly when people claim objectivity they are usually trying to assert an absolute and universal fact, disinterested and devoid of subject - this is absurd.
Observations are always done by an individual and are therefore neccessarily subjective.
Something as banal as "murder is wrong" is not devoid of subject or relationship. At best it is a tautology. But cannot be absolute or universal.
In the 10 commandments it is considered divine and absolute. This kind of rules are called teleology.

If you ask me, 'good', or 'bad' lies in the intent of an action. Even with killing a person. A person walking into a school with a submachine gun intent on killing as many kids as possible is, obviously, doing a bad thing. A person shooting that school shooter, in order to prevent countless death, is not doing bad. Perhaps a solution without killing the shooter would have been preferred. But if the intent is preventing senseless bloodshed, I call it a good deed. It would be an act according to the duty to the moral law. These kinds of theories are called deontology.

GE Morton
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Truth

Post by GE Morton » May 25th, 2019, 11:27 am

Arjen wrote:
May 25th, 2019, 11:01 am

Observations are always done by an individual and are therefore neccessarily subjective.
That is a non sequitur. It renders the objective/subjective distinction meaningless.

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Sculptor1
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Truth

Post by Sculptor1 » May 25th, 2019, 7:05 pm

Arjen wrote:
May 25th, 2019, 11:01 am
. This kind of rules are called teleology.
Not really.
What I meant was. As murder is defined as unlawful or wrong killing, saying murder is wrong is tautological.
Can't see why you'd want to bring teleology into it.

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Sculptor1
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Truth

Post by Sculptor1 » May 25th, 2019, 7:06 pm

GE Morton wrote:
May 25th, 2019, 11:27 am
Arjen wrote:
May 25th, 2019, 11:01 am

Observations are always done by an individual and are therefore neccessarily subjective.
That is a non sequitur. It renders the objective/subjective distinction meaningless.
Exactly.
And that is precisely why claims of objectivity are suspect, and it is always best, in my view, to suspect the motives (usually religious) of those trying to assert objective moral claims.

GE Morton
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Truth

Post by GE Morton » May 25th, 2019, 9:14 pm

Sculptor1 wrote:
May 25th, 2019, 7:06 pm

And that is precisely why claims of objectivity are suspect, and it is always best, in my view, to suspect the motives (usually religious) of those trying to assert objective moral claims.
Well, the objective/subjective distinction does not apply only to moral claims. It applies to most synthetic propositions.

And there is no reason to be skeptical of "those trying to assert objective moral claims." Whether a claim, a moral claim or any other kind, is objective or not is usually obvious. It is objective if its truth conditions are accessible to any suitably situated observer.

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Sculptor1
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Truth

Post by Sculptor1 » May 26th, 2019, 8:44 am

GE Morton wrote:
May 25th, 2019, 9:14 pm
Sculptor1 wrote:
May 25th, 2019, 7:06 pm

And that is precisely why claims of objectivity are suspect, and it is always best, in my view, to suspect the motives (usually religious) of those trying to assert objective moral claims.
Well, the objective/subjective distinction does not apply only to moral claims. It applies to most synthetic propositions.

And there is no reason to be skeptical of "those trying to assert objective moral claims." Whether a claim, a moral claim or any other kind, is objective or not is usually obvious. It is objective if its truth conditions are accessible to any suitably situated observer.
I entirely disagree.
Why don't you try to instruct me in a moral cause without using a banal tautology, and without using culturally situated moral norms.

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Steve3007
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Truth

Post by Steve3007 » May 26th, 2019, 9:15 am

It seems to me that GE Morton is correct to state, more than once in the past couple of pages, that:
GE Morton wrote:An objective truth is one for which the truth conditions for the proposition asserting it are public, i.e., verifiable by any suitably situated observer. A subjective truth is one whose truth conditions are private, accessible only to the speaker.
But in the specific example of the sourness or otherwise of lemons, I wouldn't tie that quite so neatly to acidity.

The pH value (acidity) of a substance is an objectively measurable quantity in the sense that it is possible to describe an apparatus that any person could, in principle, manufacture and which would, when applied to the same lemon in similar environmental circumstances, yield the same result on its numerical readout as another identical piece of apparatus. i.e. the truth condition of a statement like "this lemon has pH of 2.5" is public.

On the other hand, the declaration of sourness by various human beings, as a result (we assume) of their interpretations of the input from their taste buds, doesn't necessarily directly map to acidity. It's not a quantitative output from a reproducible chain of events in an unambiguously deterministic machine. It's an utterance by a human being, presumably as a result of a private sequence of events in their mind.

So, for my part, I'm yet to be convinced that the proposition "this lemon is sour!" is entirely objective.

Present awareness wrote:It has been estimated that objectively, the Earth rotates roughly 1000 miles an hour at the equator, but if we stand there, we do not subjectively feel this rotation. Subjectively, the Sun moves across the sky but objectively it is the Earth that is moving. Objectively, the Earth is a globe but subjectively it looks flat. What we often experience subjectively does not always correlate with what is actually happening....
I don't agree with your reasoning here. The question of whether the Earth rotates at 1000 miles per hour at the equator is not rendered subjective simply because a different measurement in different circumstances yields different results. That in itself does not mean that the truth or falsehood of the statement is not public. It just means that measurements in different circumstances yield different results. The examples you give in the quote above are all of the same form as the first one. An apparatus placed on the surface of the Earth at the equator and measuring its movement relative to the surface of the Earth would yield the same result as a similar piece of apparatus in a similar location. Likewise for two pieces of apparatus positioned near the Earth but not rotating with it, both measuring the 1000 mile per hour speed of rotation.

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Steve3007
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Truth

Post by Steve3007 » May 26th, 2019, 9:31 am

Sculptor1 wrote:Why don't you try to instruct me in a moral cause without using a banal tautology, and without using culturally situated moral norms.
If people from different cultural backgrounds disagree with each other on some moral questions, does that in itself make those moral questions subjective? I think not. It means that the conditions under which the question is being asked are different for different people because the factors that they bring to the bear on answering the question are different.

To switch to a more physical example to make the point more obvious: A very small person and a very tall person might disagree with each other as to whether a dog is a small or a large animal. But that doesn't mean that the size of dogs is an entirely subjective issue. It just means that they come at the question from different angles. The angles from which they come are part of the environmental circumstances that determine the answer. Similar to Present Awareness's example of the rotation of the Earth.

Likewise, a person from a Muslim cultural background (for example) might well disagree on a moral question with someone from an atheistic cultural background. That, in itself, doesn't make the moral question subjective.

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Sculptor1
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Truth

Post by Sculptor1 » May 26th, 2019, 9:32 am

It might be worse than that for the idea of objectivity.
Yes the earth revolves, yes it also circles the sun, but the sun and the entire solar system is hurtling through spave in relation to the galactic center.
The galaxy itself is also in motion and all of this is in a state of expansion.
But where exactly so you stand to get a perfectly objective position from which to measure all these motions?
And are there movements as yet undetected? The history of cosmology is a history of changing conceptions.
It has been said that the center of the universe is at every point in it, from which all expansion is occurring. Is this point of observation unavoidably subjective?

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Steve3007
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Truth

Post by Steve3007 » May 26th, 2019, 9:36 am

Sculptor1 wrote:It might be worse than that for the idea of objectivity.
Yes the earth revolves, yes it also circles the sun, but the sun and the entire solar system is hurtling through spave in relation to the galactic center.
The galaxy itself is also in motion and all of this is in a state of expansion.
But where exactly so you stand to get a perfectly objective position from which to measure all these motions?
What this example illustrates is what Galileo realized: that motion is relative. The question of the velocity of an object is only meaningful when measured in relation to another object. Absolute motion is not a meaningful concept. This is not the same as saying that motion is subjective.

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Sculptor1
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Truth

Post by Sculptor1 » May 26th, 2019, 9:39 am

Steve3007 wrote:
May 26th, 2019, 9:36 am
Sculptor1 wrote:It might be worse than that for the idea of objectivity.
Yes the earth revolves, yes it also circles the sun, but the sun and the entire solar system is hurtling through spave in relation to the galactic center.
The galaxy itself is also in motion and all of this is in a state of expansion.
But where exactly so you stand to get a perfectly objective position from which to measure all these motions?
What this example illustrates is what Galileo realized: that motion is relative. The question of the velocity of an object is only meaningful when measured in relation to another object. Absolute motion is not a meaningful concept. This is not the same as saying that motion is subjective.
Einstein had even more fun with this. If you are traveling in a FTL spaceship what happens when you turn the light on?

GE Morton
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Truth

Post by GE Morton » May 26th, 2019, 11:31 am

Steve3007 wrote:
May 26th, 2019, 9:36 am

What this example illustrates is what Galileo realized: that motion is relative. The question of the velocity of an object is only meaningful when measured in relation to another object. Absolute motion is not a meaningful concept. This is not the same as saying that motion is subjective.
Yes. As I pointed out earlier, it is pretty common to equate the objective/subjective dichotomy with the the absolute/relative dichotomy. But those are distinct, unrelated pairs of properties. Sculptor's question, "But where exactly so you stand to get a perfectly objective position from which to measure all these motions?," commits this error. There are no "objective positions." Propositions are objective or subjective, not positions. A proposition asserting motion must specify, or at least imply, a reference point. That proposition will be objective.

GE Morton
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Truth

Post by GE Morton » May 26th, 2019, 12:00 pm

Steve3007 wrote:
May 26th, 2019, 9:15 am

But in the specific example of the sourness or otherwise of lemons, I wouldn't tie that quite so neatly to acidity.

The pH value (acidity) of a substance is an objectively measurable quantity in the sense that it is possible to describe an apparatus that any person could, in principle, manufacture and which would, when applied to the same lemon in similar environmental circumstances, yield the same result on its numerical readout as another identical piece of apparatus. i.e. the truth condition of a statement like "this lemon has pH of 2.5" is public.

On the other hand, the declaration of sourness by various human beings, as a result (we assume) of their interpretations of the input from their taste buds, doesn't necessarily directly map to acidity. It's not a quantitative output from a reproducible chain of events in an unambiguously deterministic machine. It's an utterance by a human being, presumably as a result of a private sequence of events in their mind.
Let's draw a distinction between two propositions:

1. "This lemon is sour."

2. "This lemon tastes sour."

Calling #1 "objective" relies upon the assumption that the speaker's taste buds are "normal" and reliably detect acids (this is an aspect of being a "suitably situated observer"). If this assumption were to prove false, then the proposition would not be objective and may be false.

#2 is subjective, because the speaker is reporting upon a phenomenal experience that he is having. It may be true, even if #1 is false.

Proposition #1 is about something in the world; #2 is about the speaker.

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