I am having some confusions about subjectivism. I am a pretty new to this subject. Here is my question:
Subjectivists believe that everything is subjective, including philosophy and morals. So, how does criticizing, or calling some philosophy 'bad' make sense? (in the perspective of a subjectivist).

  • Mathematics and logic are also part of metaphysics, like morals or aesthetics, and can be bad as well. Any dialog implies common agreements about subjectivities: some say that objectivism is just a shared subjectivism. So, 1=2 is a "bad mathematical operation" because you and me have common agreements about mathematical objects: we share the same subjective mathematical notions. In the same line, saying that "fascism is good" is probably a bad philosophy for most, or "being egoist" is a "bad" moral rule for most.
    – RodolfoAP
    Feb 10, 2022 at 18:00
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    Does this answer your question? Is absolute moral relativism impossible?
    – Conifold
    Feb 11, 2022 at 0:55
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    Indeed strictly speaking the often heard speech of calling someone not making sense doesn't make sense on its own as any epistemology as a web of all kinds of beliefs unavoidably contains its own subjective element in the Cartesian dualist's terms which is usually defined in the first chapter or introduction section of modern western philosophy. But later you'll learn other different ideologies and a branch called moral philosophy (ethics), so you'll have more perspectives for what ought to be the norm or the "right" way of thinking per social convention or specific expert domain... Feb 11, 2022 at 1:20

2 Answers 2


It's easy to oversimplify the concept of subjectivism. For instance — on the most superficial level — 'subjectivism' might refer to (using non-standard terminology):

  • Solipsism: The belief that one's subjective experience is the only truth, and that all other people are manifestations of one's own subjective experience, without subjective experiences of their own. This is one way of interpreting Descartes' 'cogito ergo sum'.
  • Intersubjectivity (linguistic/symbolic): The belief that reality is a composite of the subjective experiences of a community of people, carried primarily in language and symbolic interaction. Thus something like a traffic law has no ontological existence — it only exists within the minds of people — but still has significant 'real' effects in the world.
  • Intersubjectivity (scientific/ontic): The belief that reality is a composite of the collective subjective experience of some underlying objective/ontological world. E.g. scientific inference, where subjective experience is collated, abstracted, and formalized into a subjective concept that seems to have objective reach.

Any form of intersubjectivity carries the suggestion that collective knowledge can be (not necessarily is) superior to individual knowledge on purely pragmatic grounds. Collective knowledge integrates greater quantities of subjective experience, opening the possibility that individual misperceptions and biases can be balanced out by a weight of external experience. Thus as individuals assimilate broader sources of collective knowledge, their own (individual) subjectivity becomes more sophisticated, nuanced, and developed: aka 'better'. Some people assume that there is a 'best' that this bettering aims for; others assume an unfixed, process-oriented system of communal adaptation. The jury is still out on that one...

  • Isn't "cogito ergo sum" from Descartes?
    – Barmar
    Feb 11, 2022 at 15:47
  • @Barmar: Yeaaaaah. Total brain fart. Feb 11, 2022 at 16:07
  • I might not have noticed except that it was the answer to a Jeopardy question a day or 2 ago.
    – Barmar
    Feb 11, 2022 at 16:12

From E.E. Sleinis' Nietzsche's Revaluation of Values: A Study in Strategies, page 59

[Nietzsche's] position is not that any view is as good as any other view either in regard to value judgements or to judgements about the world. In considering values, we cannot do better than perspectival truth, but we can certainly do worse. There are still better perspectives and worse perspectives, and these need to be sorted by subjecting them to rational scrutiny. Provided only that one desires to maximise value, the ground is set for an inquiry into how such desire can be met.

  • Very nice (+1) but I wonder about this formulation: is perspective truth? Whose perspective is truth? The truth is "in" perspectivalism, certainly according to N it would seem -- but "the truth" reflects back our own desire for it, our own way of understanding it. The Truth doesn't belong to either relative forms or absolute principles etc, and Nietzsche would emphasize it is a useful fiction etc
    – Joseph Weissman
    Feb 10, 2022 at 18:25
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    In this perspective truth is what you think is true. In a more forceful form it is justice, as quoted here. Feb 10, 2022 at 18:44

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