I want to say yes because apples are indeed yellow but not ALL apples are yellow. So where does this statement fall in terms of objectivity and subjectivity?

  • "apple" and "yellow" as categories are pretty subjective for the starters
    – armand
    Commented May 15, 2023 at 1:04
  • It has nothing to do with subjectivity and objectivity. It has to do, instead, with fuzziness/degree of truth. Yes, it's an objective statement as it concerns objective objects, but it's not an entirely true statement, only a partially true statement.
    – causative
    Commented May 15, 2023 at 2:15
  • 1
    Whether a statement is objective or subjective has little to do with whether it is true or false. Since determining the color of an apple is fairly independent of subjective judgments such statements are typically considered objective.
    – Conifold
    Commented May 15, 2023 at 6:12
  • In yellow light, all apples are yellow. Objectivity is just reified intersubjectivity. A recent relevant thread: 'Relationship between basic statements of knowledge and rare exceptions' philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/99092/…
    – CriglCragl
    Commented May 15, 2023 at 12:28

1 Answer 1


I think we'd call things like that poorly formed instead -- it could mean more than one thing. The confusion is that in normal English most seemingly ambiguous statements mean one specific thing from context. For example, "people can hold their breathe for 10 minutes" obviously means there exists at least one person who can do that. Whereas "that can't be a dog, dogs don't have scales" means that all dogs lack scales. "Apples are yellow" would be understood to mean that if you go to stores with a medium selection of apples, at least one type will be yellow. It's not partly true -- the thing we understand you're really asking is completely true.

For something where we can't guess the intended meaning out of all likely interpretations, like "medieval peasants could read", calling it partly true just isn't helpful. It merely means that at least one peasant in the half-century of peasants could read, while at least one couldn't. I mean, "apples are polka-dotted" is partly true if I think you're asking whether apples can be painted. So I shouldn't say that, I should ask for clarification instead.

  • "If you go to stores with a medium selection of apples, at least one type will be yellow" is not at all what I'd understand by "apples are yellow." Rather, I would interpret "apples are yellow" to be a claim that apples are generally or typically yellow.
    – causative
    Commented May 15, 2023 at 4:29
  • @causative But since you know apples are generally red, and know that's such common knowledge that the speaker would know it, you'd know they weren't asserting that most apples are red. You'd figure out they mean the next thing. Commented May 15, 2023 at 11:00

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