Can anyone explain what an "objective" statement or argument really is? How can we decide that one statement is more objective than another?
Objectivity can be considered as some sort of "pure information", in the sense that different people would have the same interpretation of it and would apply it in the same way. Information is rather different than communication, communication cannot be reduced to it. For a more extense debate on this subject, you may find this interesting: https://linguistics.stackexchange.com/questions/2144/which-languages-are-used-for-purposes-other-than-facilitating-communication
Subjectivity implies that there are some sorts os "holes" in speech (missing information), which will be completed by each person with their own values. Objectivity means that there's nothing missing, all elements needed for interpretation are provided. Maybe total objectivity is not possible, as we cannot erase ourselves completely in the linguistic process of elaborating knowledge.
If I say to 2 persons "Go to the garden and pick up a beautiful flower", unless you are a philosopher meaning to discuss with me the nature of what is beauty, you'll go to the garden and pick up whichever flower appeals to you as beautiful. The flower you picked may be very different from the flower the other person picked.
If I say to you "Go the the garden and pick up a red flower with 5 petals", this is much more objective; considering you know what "flower", "red", "petal" and "5" means in general, the flower you pick possibly will be very similar to the one the other person would pick. As you see.. objectivity implies specification, and the more objective I want to be, the more elements I need to provide, to make sure that you and I have the same references and values. Objectivity requires a common background, and making sure that mine is the same as yours, or at least, the closest to being the same; we must share a vocabulary and values for it to work.
Not only do I have to say what I think/want, I need to specify what it is that I mean with those terms. Usually we are unaware of how tricky this can be, even for simple things like "red" ("oh.. so this is red to you? I consider it to be orange"). The more we have a common ground of values, more likely it is that we will be able to share information.
I consider objectivity and subjectivity to be qualities in a relationship within a linguistic set. In this sense, there is no way a person can be objective in itself, whithout considering how it would be perceived by another.
Objectivity is normally assessed by the extent to which it is conceivable that the qualities described in the statement would exist in the manner they're described regardless of whether there are minds there to perceive them. One obvious question if this definition is accepted would be: if the criteria for determining the extent of a statement's objectivity (insofar as there can be said to be degrees, that is if it isn't taken to be an either/or destinction) is itself reliant upon reference to mind dependent phenomena (the conceivability referred to above), does this mean true objectivity is impossible?
Objectivity, like the notions of "Perfection", or "Providence", is an example of religious thought intruding stealthily into the modern secular world.
"Objectivity" as a serious philosophical notion suggests a privileged vantage point, an "Absolute" against which reality is to be gauged and a definite, final answer is to be found.
Objectivity exists in the eye of God. And if you believe in God, that`s fine. But secular philosophy should really consign this notion to the bonfire of defunct religious dogma.
Physics has demonstrated the non-existence of a solid, unconditional "objective" reality, and in doing so has exposed the very notion of Objectivity as a fallacious presumption of dubious origins. Entities are "nothing much" in themselves, but manifest as phenomena from the act of perception, which itself finds its points of reference in the context of the "nexus of the all", (or the known universe, if you like). The fact that no electron is an island, so to speak, that it can only exist in the context of the rest of the universe further illustrates my point.
An argument is a knowledge about specific causality. Causality can't go further outside boundaries. Causality is related to realities.
A piece of reality is an existence. And an existence is exist as far as we perceive.
We perceive something at different levels, therefore a piece of reality can be perceived by us differently to someone else. How we perceive something can be provided through our five senses (or even more for someone believe in spirituality - third eye for an example).
Through these senses we have awareness to an existence. The more we can use our senses to identify something, the more an existence that we perceived become closer to us (more real).
What an 'objective' statement or argument really is?
Therefore our statement is more objective if we can:
at least relate it to one of our senses relevantly,
- Asserting something that can be visualized to someone without involving someone's eyes would make an explanation is less objective. Including explaining something that must be heard to someone without involving someone's ear would make an explanation is less objective.
(perceive to the fully extent) relate it to more than one of our possible senses.
- We can do this by widening our awareness until we can direct our awareness to something, and we are aware of something to the fully extent, well connected to any of our senses. It's in the field of spiritual or metaphysics (meditation is known method for this purpose)
How can we decide that one statement is more objective than the other?
The more a knowledge can be accepted by as many as our possible senses, the more a knowledge can be considered more objective, the more it becomes closer to us (more real).
I think it’s a very good and important question that many people should ask, since the concepts of subjective vs. objective are so widely used.
Commonly, it has a simple definition, which is easy to understand, and beneficial. It really seems it has become a modern-day synonym for the familiar, basic notions of “fact” vs. “opinion”.
A fact, apparently, is something that has some kind of intrinsic state, external to human minds, not dependent on them (be it physical or abstract, as 2+2=4). So, a human can observe and acknowledge an “objective” fact / truth, or not, if they care not to, for whatever reason; but the basic “message” is that it’s simply not up for debate, but it’s very nature. It’s not specific to the topic of discussion; it’s by virtue of some sort of categorical membership; it simply isn’t logically coherent or valid to say the sky is blue is just an opinion (they say).
That which is “subjective” is often taken to be an assertion or expression of something with a more emotional component or human attitude; like, do you like the painting, or not? Did you find the music good, or not? Or the beach beautiful, or perhaps not, perhaps it was ugly?
However, I already think if you start analyzing this just a little bit, trying to define it clearly and simply in precise terms, trying to make a simple system, of classification and explanation, you can already begin to see there might be more to think about, and things might not be as they appear.
This goes in two ways.
First, what we call “subjective” (in the sense above) is basically meeting the other definition (of “objective”, above), so long as you consider someone’s state of consciousness (emotional, volitional, intentional) (in a memorable phrasing by David Chalmers) to be a “primary datum of our universe”. That is, as long as we reformulate sentences in which we communicate an inner state of feeling, such as preference, comfort or discomfort, impression, conscious-cognitive response or phenomenon or activity, not in the form of a declarative sentence, borrowing the structure of objective propositions, as a sort of mirror, analogous plane, of the perhaps physical world, to that of the mental-social - “This movies sucks” to “To me, this movie sucks”, or something, it suddenly becomes “objective” in the sense above - I didn’t assert universally that movie has the intrinsic property of badness - I actually observed and relayed the objective truth that as of then a person (me) was experiencing a particular feeling, phenomenon, or state of mind, in their head. It is absolutely true that this occurred. You may not “agree” with the opinion they had, but this just shows that we, again, use the language of objective assertions, which for some reason need to be disputed, need to rally and contend with each other, like disagreeing on an actual world-fact - even though we can openly acknowledge that enjoying, or something, is undeniably a state of mind in that person’s head; we can instead say they should not have that mental experience, which is a different matter.
It also may go in the reverse direction, in that people often think objective is kind of just a synonym for “definitely true, with a high degree of certainty” (which is natural, I enjoy using the word in the same way, sometimes), but they may use associated diagnostic markers to form confident judgments that something is definitely true, but they do not think about if the diagnostic marker strictly implies, or proves, something; maybe they think the two things always (or almost always) go together, hand in hand - like a seal of approval, a stamp of “validity” - but they are wrong. The diagnostic marker may just be associated. They may have encountered it often next to the other thing. But they do not think about or see how that thing does not appear to be an inherent part of whatever state of affairs they are wanting to assert. In other words, it’s like there being a “study” where they apparently did some numerical experiment and found some data. People may insist something is proven because there is objective evidence. But they may not realize that in some sense, the only thing “objectively” they have seen so far is a piece of paper in their hand with some squiggles on it - that is the extent of their primary experience. They have no direct contact with or total confirmation of any of that happening, not to mention that experiment happening exactly as described, not to mention if there was a mistake on the methodology, the execution, or interpretations of it.
Although objective and subjective are generally indispensable concepts for thinking and living, at least in our time, it may be better to try to think more simply, deeply, and clearly, about the nature of, difference between, the world outside of the human mind, and the world within it - which to me, clearly, is far more what those concepts are actually thing to get at.
I think by objective people mean something that happened in the world itself - the world-in-itself (I think that might be Heidegger’s phrase, or Kant, can’t remember, but of course it’s used by many people); by subjective it makes more sense to think about consciousness, or as it’s been called, phenomenology, or the phenomenological world/reality - everything that seems created by consciousness; qualitative experiences like color, emotion, a sense of being, a feeling of a body and time, etc.
This could actually be the very itty bit first step into much more thinking, but I leave off here. For example, it might be seen that mathematical truths might fall more into the category of “subjective”, as described by me the second time, because in many ways it seems like something that requires human consciousness to acknowledge conceptual forms like one and two and formulate laws or rules about these concepts; whereas outside the human mind they may not exist like that, may not be “rules” written down in the founding charter of the universe (but, it depends who you ask, of course).