Do right-handed screws objectively exist?

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Steve3007
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Do right-handed screws objectively exist?

Post by Steve3007 »

Here's a picture of a right-handed screw (the usual type):

Image

(1) Is this an objective proposition: "This is a right-handed screw"?

(2) Does the fact that it is linguistic convention to call this screw right-handed make the proposition less objective or non-objective?

(3) Is the proposition "This screw is 20mm long" more objective than the proposition in (1)?

My answers to the above are yes, no and no respectively. I think an objective proposition is one which is about the extra-mental world and not just about my inner mental world. This could be phrased as:

"Objective means observer-independent or not from a specific observer's point of view"

but I think that would be ambiguous unless made more specific. This is because a phrase like "My point of view" can mean something like "My opinion" or "My personal taste", but it can also simply mean "As measured relative to the physical location and orientation of my body". So that wording is apt to result in confusion of the two completely different notions of objectivity and relativity. Measuring something relative to the physical location and orientation of my body does not make that measurement less objective. The fact that linguistic convention dictates that a particular side of my body (the one with, among other things, a nose on it) is referred to as "the front" doesn't mean propositions making use of that linguistic convention can't be objective. All English propositions make use of English linguistic conventions.

If we were to invert that picture of a screw, it would look like a screw of the same length but left-handed. Does that mean that the answer to (3) is yes? I say no. What it means is that chirality (handedness) is an objective property of objects that contain reflective asymmetry whereas length is an objective property of objects that are reflectively both symmetrical and asymmetrical. It doesn't mean that either of those properties is less objective than the other. An example of a subjective property would be whether that screw smells nice.

Any thoughts on this?
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Re: Do right-handed screws objectively exist?

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Steve3007 wrote: May 4th, 2021, 6:06 am Any thoughts on this?
Yes. I think this topic is an investigation into objectivity, not screws, but please correct me if I'm wrong.


Steve3007 wrote: May 4th, 2021, 6:06 am I think an objective proposition is one which is about the extra-mental world and not just about my inner mental world. This could be phrased as:

"Objective means observer-independent or not from a specific observer's point of view"

but I think that would be ambiguous unless made more specific. This is because a phrase like "My point of view" can mean something like "My opinion" or "My personal taste", but it can also simply mean "As measured relative to the physical location and orientation of my body". So that wording is apt to result in confusion of the two completely different notions of objectivity and relativity.
And here you have homed in on the reason why I don't like to use the term "objective" on a philosophy forum. It carries a range of meanings, and it is never clear which of them is intended. Just like your comments about "My point of view", above, but worse because "my point of view" offers only two alternatives, while "objective" offers a full spectrum of meaning. [Admittedly, all the meanings of "objective" are associated, while the two meanings of "my point of view" are quite distinct.]

For example: if you write "objective" and mean "detached", why not write "detached" instead? Because you might've meant "absolute correspondence to that which actually is" - very different from the much-milder "detached" - and there's no way your reader can/could know which meaning you intend.
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Re: Do right-handed screws objectively exist?

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Pattern-chaser wrote:Yes. I think this topic is an investigation into objectivity, not screws, but please correct me if I'm wrong.
No, it's about chirality. There have been two other topics dedicated to that subject recently, both of which have attracted a lot of lively discussion, and they were offshoots from yet another one. So I thought, let's have one more! :D
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Re: Do right-handed screws objectively exist?

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Steve3007 wrote: May 4th, 2021, 9:59 am
Pattern-chaser wrote:Yes. I think this topic is an investigation into objectivity, not screws, but please correct me if I'm wrong.
No, it's about chirality. There have been two other topics dedicated to that subject recently, both of which have attracted a lot of lively discussion, and they were offshoots from yet another one. So I thought, let's have one more! :D
Ah, OK.

Steve3007 wrote: May 4th, 2021, 6:06 am Any thoughts on this?
Yes: I think you answered your own question:
Steve3007 wrote: May 4th, 2021, 6:06 am What it means is that chirality (handedness) is an objective property of objects that contain reflective asymmetry whereas length is an objective property of objects that are reflectively both symmetrical and asymmetrical. It doesn't mean that either of those properties is less objective than the other.
It's difficult or impossible to compare the 'objectiveness' of two things. "Objective" isn't a comparative term; it's not comparative, it's absolute.
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Re: Do right-handed screws objectively exist?

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Pattern-chaser wrote:It's difficult or impossible to compare the 'objectiveness' of two things. "Objective" isn't a comparative term; it's not comparative, it's absolute.
I use objective to mean "concerning objects" or "concerning things that have an existence outside of minds" (those are things that I call objects). I think right-handed screws exist outside of minds. I think they're objects. I don't think they're just slightly objects. I think they totally are.
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Re: Do right-handed screws objectively exist?

Post by LuckyR »

No doubt, the groove orientation is as objective a description as length and weight (it is a subset of "shape"). The fact that it goes by the label of left and right which in 2 dimensional space is relative, is just a quirk of fate.
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Re: Do right-handed screws objectively exist?

Post by Scott »

Assuming "objective" means observer-independent, then in logical contexts and in most philosophical contexts, I generally consider the phrase "objective proposition" to be redundant. Likewise, I would generally look at the phrase "subjective proposition" as a contradiction.

Granted, the word proposition has other meanings in other contexts. For instance, in some contexts, it simply means to ask someone for sex.

Steve3007 wrote: May 4th, 2021, 6:06 am Here's a picture of a right-handed screw (the usual type):

[picture]

(1) Is this an objective proposition: "This is a right-handed screw"?
The sentence before the picture seems to pre-answer the question, but nonetheless I think it is fair to assume that in most contexts that sentence could be considered an observer-independent proposition (i.e. an "objective proposition"). In other words, the actual truth or falsehood of the proposition would be consistent for all observers, meaning if one observer/subject says the proposition is true and a second observer/subject says the proposition is false, one must be wrong, and the other must be right; that is, assuming they truly are both referring to the same singly proposition, meaning some kind of fallacy of equivocation is not occurring). However, to reiterate my earlier point, I think the preceding sentence is a tautology, due to my understanding the meaning of the word proposition.

In essentially the same sense, I would say the following can reasonably be treated as "objective propositions":

"Ice cream is a popular desert."

"My daughter's room has a purple wall."

"My son's room does not have a purple wall."

"This planet is planet Earth."

"Carrots are vegetables."

"Bananas are fruits."

"Tomatoes are vegetables."

"Tomatoes are fruits."

"I am called Scott."

"My name is Scott."

"The human I see in the mirror is called Scott."

"This cat (my cat) is named Goose."


I think it is reasonable to interpret all of the above sentences as "objective propositions", at least within mutually understood contexts. But words and sentences are equivocal and context-dependent.

Steve3007 wrote: May 4th, 2021, 6:06 am (2) Does the fact that it is linguistic convention to call this screw right-handed make the proposition less objective or non-objective?
Since we are talking about the objectivity of a so-called proposition itself (versus a quality like tastiness, tallness, height, fruit-ness, vegetable-ness, blueness, redness, etc.), I cannot imagine how the existence of the linguistic conventions that give common meaning to the words used in the sentence would affect the objectivity of the alleged proposition. In short, thus, I suspect the answer to your above question is no.

In other words, linguistic conventions are used to create meaningful sentences that convey propositions (or other meaningful sentiments insofar as meaningful sentiments beyond mere propositions exist) in a hopefully mutually understandable way between two or more individuals.

Another way to convey meaning other than words is with art.

Steve3007 wrote: May 4th, 2021, 6:06 am (3) Is the proposition "This screw is 20mm long" more objective than the proposition in (1)?
I don't know what it means for a proposition to be "more objective" than another proposition, especially since I generally consider the phrase "objective proposition" to be redundant.
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Re: Do right-handed screws objectively exist?

Post by Atla »

I think chirality and the directions discussed in the other two topics are only related by name. There's no parallel.
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Re: Do right-handed screws objectively exist?

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Atla wrote: May 4th, 2021, 12:53 pm I think chirality and the directions discussed in the other two topics are only related by name. There's no parallel.
Exactly, the meaning of right and left in 2 and 3 dimensions is unrelated.
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Re: Do right-handed screws objectively exist?

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Atla wrote: May 4th, 2021, 12:53 pm I think chirality and the directions discussed in the other two topics are only related by name. There's no parallel.
I generally agree. I think it would be similar to mistaking the so-called "color" of quarks as being a literal color.

However, fundamental particles do arguably have a form of quasi-orientation in Newtonian-lik 3D space, in that a mirror image of a particle that is mirrored only the 3 dimensions treated as space by the observer would be a time-reversed version of that particle, making it not identical. To make a universal conformal transformation, one cannot simply reverse 3 of the 4 dimensions of spacetime but has to reverse all 4. Then one has done nothing, per CPT symmetry.

In other words, there is a CP asymmetry, meaning doing a C and P reversal without a T reversal is not a conformal transformation, a fact that could be misleadingly referred to as a fundamental "handedness" (or parity) for particles in 3D space over time, but again that so-called "handedness" is like the sense in which quarks have color. It has essentially nothing to do with leftness and rightness. Particles don't have hands and fingers, and aren't even really particles but waves in universal fields. It's an analogy used by quantum physicists, not meant to be taken literally. The same goes for quantum "spin" which is not spin in the normal everyday sense. Quantum mechanics are so non-intuitive at that level that quantum physicists use misleading analogies, presumably to make it seem more intuitive, but I would argue such extreme oversimplification comes at a high cost in terms of potentially creating more misunderstanding than understanding.
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Re: Do right-handed screws objectively exist?

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Scott wrote:Assuming "objective" means observer-independent,...
I use it to refer to extra-mental things: objects, and statements or propositions about them. As I said in the OP, I think "observer-independent" is too ambiguous for reasons I gave there and elsewhere.
...then in logical contexts and in most philosophical contexts, I generally consider the phrase "objective proposition" to be redundant.
By "redundant" I assume you mean "of no use". I disagree. I find it useful for referring to statements about extra-mental things; objects.
Likewise, I would generally look at the phrase "subjective proposition" as a contradiction.
I wouldn't. I'd use "subjective proposition" to refer to statements about mental things; statements that are not empirically verifiable and are not definitions of terminology. I don't see any contradiction.
Granted, the word proposition has other meanings in other contexts. For instance, in some contexts, it simply means to ask someone for sex.
I'm not using it in that sense.
The sentence before the picture seems to pre-answer the question,...
You can ignore that statement if you like.
...but nonetheless I think it is fair to assume that in most contexts that sentence could be considered an observer-independent proposition (i.e. an "objective proposition"). In other words, the actual truth or falsehood of the proposition would be consistent for all observers, meaning if one observer/subject says the proposition is true and a second observer/subject says the proposition is false, one must be wrong, and the other must be right;
Aside from my reservations about the use of the term "observer-independent", mentioned previously, I agree. I think "this is a right-handed screw" is a statement about an objectively existing thing.
that is, assuming they truly are both referring to the same singly proposition, meaning some kind of fallacy of equivocation is not occurring).
Yes, obviouly we assume that words are being used in conventional and unambiguous ways.
However, to reiterate my earlier point, I think the preceding sentence is a tautology, due to my understanding the meaning of the word proposition.
I don't think "Here's a picture of a right-handed screw (the usual type):" is a tautology. A tautology is a statement that is true by definition. That sentence is a label on a picture. I don't class labels on pictures as tautologies.
In essentially the same sense, I would say the following can reasonably be treated as "objective propositions":

"1. Ice cream is a popular desert."

"2. My daughter's room has a purple wall."

"3. My son's room does not have a purple wall."

"4. This planet is planet Earth."

"5. Carrots are vegetables."

"6. Bananas are fruits."

"7. Tomatoes are vegetables."

"8. Tomatoes are fruits."

"9. I am called Scott."

"10. My name is Scott."

"11. The human I see in the mirror is called Scott."

"12. This cat (my cat) is named Goose."

I think it is reasonable to interpret all of the above sentences as "objective propositions", at least within mutually understood contexts...
(Numbers added by me for reference.)

It's true that none of them are subjective: None of them are statements about publicly inaccessible mental states. Some of them are empirically verifiable propositions (1,2,3) and some of them are definitions of terminology, including declarations of the super-classes in which some sub-classes are conventionally placed (5,6,7,8) and declarations of the speaker's determination to attach labels to various objects (4,9,10,11,12).

(Great name for a cat.)
..But words and sentences are equivocal and context-dependent.
I disagree that words and sentences are equivocal and context-dependent. If they are context-dependent and the context is not specified (either explicitly or implicitly) then they are equivocal. If the context is specified then they're not equivocal. Simply stating that words are equivocal is to give up on being clearly understood.
Scott wrote:
Steve3007 wrote:(2) Does the fact that it is linguistic convention to call this screw right-handed make the proposition less objective or non-objective?
Since we are talking about the objectivity of a so-called proposition itself (versus a quality like tastiness, tallness, height, fruit-ness, vegetable-ness, blueness, redness, etc.)
I disagree with you placing (for example) "tastiness" and "height" in the same category as you seem to have done here. Tastiness is subjective. Height is not subjective. It is relative. Different things. The statement "this is tasty" is subjective. The statement "I am tall" is not subjective. It's just incomplete until the question "relative to what/who?" has been answered.
Scott wrote:I cannot imagine how the existence of the linguistic conventions that give common meaning to the words used in the sentence would affect the objectivity of the alleged proposition. In short, thus, I suspect the answer to your above question is no.
I agree to that "no".
In other words, linguistic conventions are used to create meaningful sentences that convey propositions (or other meaningful sentiments insofar as meaningful sentiments beyond mere propositions exist) in a hopefully mutually understandable way between two or more individuals.
Yes, we assume that we speak the same language - use the same linguistic conventions - when proposing something objective about the world like "here is a right-handed screw" or "the red car is to the left of the blue car from my position and orientation".
I don't know what it means for a proposition to be "more objective" than another proposition, especially since I generally consider the phrase "objective proposition" to be redundant.
I still don't know why you're saying that the phrase "objective proposition" is redundant. I take that to mean "useless", but you do seem to have made some use of it, albeit putting it in scare-quotes.
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Re: Do right-handed screws objectively exist?

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Atla wrote:I think chirality and the directions discussed in the other two topics are only related by name. There's no parallel.
Scott wrote:I generally agree. I think it would be similar to mistaking the so-called "color" of quarks as being a literal color.
I disagree with Atla's comment and I strongly disagree with Scott's answering comment. There is no relationship whatsoever between that force associated with quarks and the phenomenon associated with the wavelength of light other than the name. That is not true of the leftness and rightness mentioned in the other topics and the leftness and rightness discussed here. They are two aspects of the same phenomenon.
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Re: Do right-handed screws objectively exist?

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LuckyR wrote:No doubt, the groove orientation is as objective a description as length and weight (it is a subset of "shape"). The fact that it goes by the label of left and right which in 2 dimensional space is relative, is just a quirk of fate.
I'd say the groove orientation is an objectively existing property of the screw but, as with all objectively existing properties of objects, the language we use to describe it is, as you put it, a "quirk of fate" - an arbitrarily chosen convention. So, linguistic convention dictates that clockwise rotation is right-handed and anticlockwise is left-handed. "Righty tighty, lefty loosey" as they say.
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Re: Do right-handed screws objectively exist?

Post by Steve3007 »

Pattern-chaser wrote:And here you have homed in on the reason why I don't like to use the term "objective" on a philosophy forum. It carries a range of meanings, and it is never clear which of them is intended.
It may true that some people use the term "objective" in different ways, but I don't think it's true that it's never clear which of them is intended. One way to make it clear which of them is intended is to say which of them is intended. I use it to refer to statements about extra-mental things which I call objects, as opposed to statements which amount to comments about my mental state.
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Re: Do right-handed screws objectively exist?

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Steve3007 wrote: May 5th, 2021, 11:46 am
Atla wrote:I think chirality and the directions discussed in the other two topics are only related by name. There's no parallel.
Scott wrote:I generally agree. I think it would be similar to mistaking the so-called "color" of quarks as being a literal color.
I disagree with Atla's comment and I strongly disagree with Scott's answering comment. There is no relationship whatsoever between that force associated with quarks and the phenomenon associated with the wavelength of light other than the name. That is not true of the leftness and rightness mentioned in the other topics and the leftness and rightness discussed here. They are two aspects of the same phenomenon.
Left and right as directions go on "in a straight line" indefinitely, are you saying that the universe as a whole has some kind of chirality?
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