Is there something between objective truth and opinions? Sometimes, there's no objective truth to a question, but is there a way to assess how valid an opinion is and is there a class of opinions that's considered to be "above" a simple opinion or simple preference?

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    Expert opinion, and generally speaking objectivity always comes in degrees.
    – Conifold
    Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 3:05
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    If one takes "objective truth" to mean universal or near universal consensus, and "opinion" highly subjective and seldom agreed upon, then one might consider degrees of consensus or as Conifold has proficiency, expertise, or credentials. You might want to consider objectivity as a shorthand for intersubjective agreement.
    – J D
    Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 9:38
  • Rational or reasonable belief?
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 10:22
  • Any opinion is objective -- it is either objectively true or false. In that sense, you are no more entitled to your opinions than you are entitled to your facts. Commented Aug 17, 2020 at 4:54

4 Answers 4


I suppose the standard answer today would be that there are only opinions, or more usually "beliefs," with varying degrees of probability. The "objective truth" would only be one that has held up so far, such as Hume's example that the sun will rise tomorrow.

An "opinion" is a judgment that can and is expressed, a social construction that is in turn susceptible to judgments. As such, there are many ways to judge judgments. By probability, consensus, coherence, vehemence, longevity, correlation with observation, self-reference, even novelty. A demagogue, for example, may hold and express a baseless opinion so vehemently as to form a consensus and perhaps even create a set of circumstances conforming to that opinion. So, opinions may hold performative powers.

Pragmatists like William James describe truth as the "beliefs you are willing to act on," which is a nice definition. Most such beliefs we do not even express as conscious judgments, they are simply incorporated into our daily actions, a stream of inductive micro-judgments.

So one might also distinguish between those beliefs we habitually act on (this sidewalk is solid), those we consciously act on (this airplane will fly), and those we hold without any necessity to act (the pope dwells in the Vatican).

With the internet we now have a rapidly developing science of opinion creation, recording, quantification, testing, modification, and monetization. Opinion is both an object of research and a commodity with exchange value.So one could also rank opinions by market value.

This overproduction of opinion returns us to problems of the Platonic dialogues, which struggled with the political consequences of rhetoric, authority, drama, and their powers to sway opinion.

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    Nice job. cf CS Pierce's beliefs are but habits of conduct, which is where William (not Henry, who was a novelist, not a pragmatist philosopher ) James got his dicta. see: philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/73659/…
    – gonzo
    Commented Aug 17, 2020 at 3:25
  • Oh, right you are! I meant the other brother, Jesse James. Commented Aug 17, 2020 at 4:01

An opinion is a statement. As such, it must be true or false. Now the truth is always objective and universal, making any opinion objective as well (i.e. it must be either robjectively true or objectively false).

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    So if I were to say that "Stairway to Heaven" is a better song than "Bohemian Rhapsody", that would be objectively and universally either true or false?
    – Ray
    Commented Aug 17, 2020 at 22:53
  • It it objectively true (or false) that you, @Ray, like "Stairway to Heaven" more than "Bohemian Rhapsody". Some statement require some point of reference to be valid (e.g. you can't ask "Am I taller, true or false?" unless you specify who/what are you comparing your height against). Commented Aug 17, 2020 at 23:29
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    That statement would be objectively true or false, which is why I didn't phrase it that way. But if I understand you correctly, your claim is that statements that are not objectively true or false exist, but are invalid?
    – Ray
    Commented Aug 18, 2020 at 14:36
  • No. A valid statement is either true or false. Truth is objective and universal. Commented Aug 18, 2020 at 21:54
  • @Silk So ""Stairway to Heaven" is a better song than "Bohemian Rhapsody"" is not a valid statement? Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 17:41

Knowledge is commonly defined as "justified true belief." That is, my claim to know, claim C is justified/warranted, by propositions x,y,z, which I claim to know with a higher degree of certainty. Without getting overly technical, An old quote from Roderick Chisolm's essay Commonsensism (which I have cited before) addresses your query quite nicely:

‘Commonsensism’ refers to one of the principal approaches to traditional theory of knowledge where one asks oneself the following Socratic questions: (1) What can I know?; (2) How can I distinguish beliefs that are reasonable for me to have from beliefs that are not reasonable for me to have? and (3) What can I do to replace unreasonable beliefs by reasonable beliefs about the same subject-matter, and to replace beliefs that are less reasonable by beliefs that are more reasonable? The mark of commonsensism is essentially a faith in oneself – a conviction that a human being, by proceeding cautiously, is capable of knowing the world in which it finds itself.

Any inquiry must set out with some beliefs. If you had no beliefs at all, you could not even begin to inquire. Hence any set of beliefs is better than none. Moreover, the beliefs that we do find ourselves with at any given time have so far survived previous inquiry and experience. And it is psychologically impossible to reject everything that you believe. ‘Doubting’, Peirce says, ‘is not as easy as lying’. Inquiry, guided by common sense, leads us to a set of beliefs which indicates that common sense is on the whole a reliable guide to knowledge. And if inquiry were not thus guided by common sense, how would it be able to answer the three Socratic questions with which it begins? [https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/thematic/commonsensism/v-1/sections/critical-commonsensism-a-systematic-treatment.]

You may also wish to peruse the writings of C.S. Pierce, who contends that "The test of doubt and belief is [the habit of] conduct," and observes that:

No sane man doubts that fire would burn his fingers; for if he did he would put his hand in the flame, in order to satisfy his doubt. There are some beliefs, almost all of which relate to the ordinary conduct of life, such as that ordinary fire burns the flesh, while pretty vague, are beyond the reach of any man’s doubt.

Which plainly constitutes "something between 'objective truth' and opinion."


Occam's razor aims to pick the best of several unproven theories, in that sense they are not all equal.

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