# What is the relationship between subjectivity and vagueness?

Suppose statement S is talking about concept C. There are 4 different possibilities:

1. S is subjective and C is vague.
2. S is objective and C is definite.
3. S is subjective and C is definitie.
4. S is objective and C is vague.

There are many obvious examples for 1 and 2. It seems to me that 3 is impossible. My question: Is 4 possible? If so, please provide an example.

Update: I have edited the question. In the previous version, I asked about two examples:

A. Bob is prettier than Charlie

B. Alice believes that Bob is prettier than Charlie

• Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Commented May 24, 2018 at 14:05

Something subjective is something relative while something objective is something universally valid.

"prettier" is something subjective by default because there is no universal rule, law or convention to define the specifications for it.

"Believes" are also something subjective because they have no actual foundation, therefore it cannot be defined as something objective.

Of course, we may take an extreme example of one of the subjects having his face ripped off or something like that, in which case any normal person would say that the other one is prettier, but even in this case there can be perspectives, there can be others even if at a rate of 1 in a million or so that would find the face ripped off subject prettier compared to the other.

So not even an extreme example cannot turn the B statement into something objective.

• I just edited my question before seeing your answer. I apologize, but your answer is still relevant. Commented May 24, 2018 at 12:24
• Well, if we take physicalism for granted, maybe it's objectively verifiable if someone believes in something? Commented May 24, 2018 at 12:26
• No, because a believe is not checkable or quantifiable. After-edit - partially yes, because you can objectively determine that C is something vague. You should put back the initial content also, the current answer does not make any sense after your edit. Commented May 24, 2018 at 12:39
• You're right, I added an update. Commented May 24, 2018 at 12:57

Something is subjective when it is caused by a person. "The chicken tikka masala is too spicy" would be a subjective statement because it is either true or false depending on the person saying it.

Something is vague when there is no sensible boundary such that its extent is known exactly. "Too spicy" is vague because there is no way that the transition between "too spicy" and "not too spicy" occurs at an exact place.

Vague concepts are the subject of the "sorites paradox" (or "paradox of the heap"), in which you remove grains from a heap of sand until what's left is "not a heap". We learn that although "heap" is a meaningful concept, it is vague; it's a good thing that there's nothing important that comes of being "a heap"! (I sure wouldn't want to order "a heap" of Cheerios on Amazon... I might get two Cheerios in a bag)

I think that "This food is too spicy" is subjective and definite... I won't eat it, but perhaps somebody else will. Also, "This is a heap of sand" is objective and vague.

Cheers!

• Thanks. If spicy is definite, then it has a clear definition. What is that definition? Commented May 24, 2018 at 13:28
• Spicy is vague, but "too spicy" is definite: I won't eat something that's too spicy. "This food is spicy" would be vague as well as subjective. Commented May 24, 2018 at 14:11
• This is a heap of sand is not objective in your usage. This is a heap of sand would always have to be the same truth value for it to be objective. The moment it can be FALSE your claim is non-objective. Objectivity requires the truth value to never change. Commented May 24, 2018 at 14:24
• I guess I was imagining something that weighs between 25-50 lb, which for sand is objectively "a heap". True that "this is a heap" could also be said about a boundary condition, in which the vagueness causes human judgment / subjectivity to enter the equation. Commented May 24, 2018 at 17:34
• @Asmani, I suppose it would be objective to say it that way. But to hide the threshold by saying "it's too spicy" is subjective--- the same words by someone else have different truth values. Commented May 26, 2018 at 13:18