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So I think everything starts as an opinion, because anything that's informal and not necessarily fact. However, some statements must rise to the level of objectivity for something to be considered objective.

So, what makes opinions become objective?

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    Could you clarify what you mean by ‘objective’? E.g., suppose I say: ‘I find tomatoes tasty’. Is this subjective in your sense, because I’m talking about my personal taste experience; or is it objective because I in fact find tomatoes tasty? Similarly, suppose I believe, correctly, that my friend just crashed his car. I believe this because I had a dream about it last night. Is this subjective, because I’m basing my belief on bad evidence; or is it objective because he did crash his car? – MarkOxford Nov 2 '17 at 10:28
  • @MarkOxford Objective means that it concerns more than the subject. That the statement refers to states of things that are independent of the subject. – mavavilj Nov 2 '17 at 10:34
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    One can refer to states of things independent of the subject, and yet describe them subjectively, e.g. "this flower is beautiful". Your question currently seems too broad for SE, there are lots of philosophical doctrines of objectivity. Please look at IEP's objectivity and SEP's Scientific Objectivity and try to focus it more narrowly. – Conifold Nov 2 '17 at 19:59
  • opinion based... – user38026 Jul 21 '19 at 10:09
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I would say that one way for opinions to become objective is to pass the empirical test. You can test your opinions and find out if they are right or wrong. If an opinion becomes objective, it will not be an opinion anymore, rather it will become a fact. It is not a personal opinion that the speed of light has the value that it has and it is invariant in every inertial reference frame.

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Would it be useful - perhaps not - to treat 'objective' as a contrast term ? To say that an opinion is objective is to claim or to presuppose that it is not biased, not idiosyncratic, not prejudiced, not the outcome of self-deception ...? In this case there would be no feature common and distinctive to objective opinions, simply a number of features any one or mix of which could deprive an opinion of objectivity. One implication of this approach is that there is no necessary connection between objectivity and truth. My opinion about X might be free from bias, idiosyncrasy, prejudice or self-deception but still be false. (Unless, of course, the list left open and incomplete ('...') contains features which do rule out error. It isn't immediately clear to me what such features might be.)

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Let's first define "objective". "Objective" means that a statement is not dependent on the subject that made it to be true.

"objective /əbˈdʒɛktɪv/ (of a person or their judgement) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts." https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/objective (Oxford Dictionary)

Let's define "opinion". A jugemental view someone holds that has been concluded from subjective information (like feelings or thoughts) or objective information (like measurements or observations).

"opinion /əˈpɪnjən/ a view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge." https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/opinion (Oxford Dictionary)

"This icecream is tasty, in my opinion." is a jugemental statement based on the things you felt. Thus it is inherently subjective. Making it by definition a subjective opinion. It may not be proven wrong due to its subjectivity.

"Pluto is a planet, in my opinion." is a jugemental statement based on measureable information. From the measurements, there are words to define what qualifies as a "planet". This is called the "objective criteria" and it may be satisfied to reach the conclusion. The fact that the statement is seperate from the subject makes it an objective opinion. Of course the question if it is true can be discussed (the truth of the statement is of no concern in this instance). Therefore it is not an universally agreed fact but instead a judgemental view - an opinion. To say "in my opinion" is redundant here and not often used when talking about objective opinions. That does not not make them opinions.

To clarify the confusion about objectivity and fact, I will use more abstract terms in an attempt to prove that the difference exists.

Let A, B, C be indisputable objective facts (they are here defined to be true). Let D be a jugemental statement. Let "A and B therefore D" be a logical statement. Let "A and B and C therefore not D" be a logical statement. Therefore if C is true, then not D. Let P be a person. P is only aware of A and B therefore P concludes D is true. A and B are objective therefore D is objective. Since C is true, D is wrong and therefore not a fact even though P concluded objectively that D is true.

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    @FrankHubeny How would it help the point if I point out that there are others that have a similar view? It is logically constructed and should be able to stand on its own. – St. Lt. Jul 18 '19 at 19:45
  • @FrankHubeny I added links to dictionary definitions which serve as the axioms of my assessment. – St. Lt. Jul 18 '19 at 19:58
  • @FrankHubeny also thanks for the tips. – St. Lt. Jul 18 '19 at 20:00
  • It looks good. +1 – Frank Hubeny Sep 12 '19 at 23:41
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Neither opinion nor objectivity are particularly tightly defined hence any statement as to the point at which they change state is, by necessity, opinion (somewhat ironically).

However, what I like to use as a yardstick for objectivity is if it is feasible for others to come to the same opinion and, by applying reasonable rules of evidence and logic, they will come to the same opinion.

Using this approach, MarkOxford's "I find tomato's tasty" could never be objective but "tomatoes grow on tomato plants" can be.

You may note that what I've really done is replace the, somewhat vague, terms of opinion and objectivity with the, also vague, terms of feasible and reasonable. I don't believe there's a better approach but that, of course, is just my objective fact.

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  • Hmm, but don't you think it's logically incoherent to assume that "they do change", but then say that "but the point of change (which we know exists) is a matter of opinion"? – mavavilj Nov 2 '17 at 11:27
  • Not at all. It is perfectly rational for individuals to have different bars for evidence. What happens in practice is that there becomes a quorum of people that have passed their bars and so most newcomers assume objectivity until proven otherwise. This process is probably easier to see in science than in many other fields as the process of becoming quorate is usually quite well documented. But it can take decades. – Alex Nov 2 '17 at 11:58
  • Wouldn't "tomatoes grow on tomato plants" be more of a fact than an opinion? – user935 Nov 2 '17 at 13:30
  • At least if expert testimony counts as ‘reasonable evidence’, my example of ‘I find tomatoes tasty’ is very much objective under your criterion: I’m an expert on my own taste preferences, and you just heard my testimony. – Otherwise, I agree though that we’re better off studying notions like evidence and rationality. – MarkOxford Nov 2 '17 at 13:42
  • @barrycarter Well, many people would agree with it as there's a well established quorum. I'm guessing that happened around the 17C in Europe. As such, many would reasonably treat it as a fact. Interestingly, some geneticists who spend their days cloning fruit might consider this only an approximation to a fact. One day, it may not be a fact at all. – Alex Nov 2 '17 at 13:47
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Subjective facts are allowed to contradict each other and still be considered correct. Consider:

John: Durians are disgusting!
Amir: Durians are delicious!

Each person believes their own statement to be true. Each person accepts the other person's statement as valid from the other person's perspective. They might consider the other person to have strange tastes, but they don't think the other person is lying, ignorant, or misinformed.

Objective facts are not allowed to contradict each other. Consider:

John: Durians are a type of fish.
Amir: Durians are a type of fruit.

A reasonable man would say that at least one of these statements is false.

If enough people share a common subjective view, then society as a whole acts as if it is true, and the reasonable man would say that it is true, and anyone disagreeing with it is clearly wrong. The fact then becomes objective. (It might very well be untrue, but that would be irrelevant.)

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  • I think "subjective fact" is an oxymoron. Since if only one person agrees on it, it's not very useful "towards objectivity". In this view we could e.g. have that "every person has their own science, and they can disagree with other people's sciences". Which is not entirely reasonable. Thus I would refer to those as "opinion" or "matter of taste". Whereas "fact" must refer to "states of things, which participants perceive 'about the same'". – mavavilj Sep 13 '19 at 8:25

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