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Saturday, June 2, 2018

What is objective?


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, Tdorante10

Photo license: CC BY-SA 4.0


What is objective? Here is my definition:


Objective is the attribute of not being open to interpretation


Think of the number 4. To establish the definition of 4, we can point to groupings of 4. Each example helps establish the meaning. The meaning of 4 is an objective concept which can be easily differentiated from the meaning of 3. I believe this idea also applies to mathematical forms such as squares and circles. We can point to examples of squares and non-squares in order to establish the objective meaning of a square.


What about the word 'open'? I believe this word is subjective for two reasons. First, there is not a strict line that determines when a person is upset from when they are not. Second, there are multiple meanings of the word 'open' therefore its meaning is dependent upon the subjective context.


The situation is more complicated for propositions. With two exceptions, I believe it's impossible to make a 100% objective proposition about reality. The only exceptions I can think of are mathematical equations such as 2 + 3 = 5 and symbolic logic equations. I believe some of the most objective looking statements can be twisted to be purposefully misinterpreted. I have listed two examples below.


  1. 'Bob's car is in the driveway.' This statement appears to have an objective meaning, but the word 'in' could potentially be interpreted as 'inside'. This would mean that the pieces of the car are embedded into the cement of the driveway. Of course this is ridiculous, but it shows one possible interpretation of the words.
  2. 'Mary owns 2 cars.' Here I see two words that could be misrepresented: 'own' and 'cars'. What is the definition of 'car'? What is the definition of 'own'? These words can have many different meanings. Therefore, I think this statement is not 100% objective.


Instead of trying to differentiate between objective and subjective propositions, I think of propositions as existing on a continuum between objective and subjective. I believe there are too many unseen misinterpretation traps to safely conclude that a statement is 100% objective (except for mathematics and logic symbols). For this reason, I believe that the word 'objective' is subjective.



License: CC BY-SA 4.0