I've been on the topic of objectivity and subjectivity for a while and I just wanted some clarification on these statements since they contain value judgments and I'm unsure which category they belong to.

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    These are evaluative judgments and so paradigmatically subjective, at least to those who accept the subjective/objective distinction. Indeed, "bad" and "terrible" are so descriptively thin that they lack content which could even potentially be objective/factual, see SEP, Thick Ethical Concepts.
    – Conifold
    May 27, 2023 at 3:12
  • Many newspapers in the U.S. (unfortunately) would not hesitate to use that kind of subjective language. So (sad to say), in that kind of writing, "terrible" might be consider objective if you were to define "objective" to mean "what a large plurality of people would say" (which it doesn't mean). May 31, 2023 at 20:18

2 Answers 2


This is merely an issue with imprecision and understood meaning in English. You're letting multiple meanings of "bad" and "looks" confuse you.

As you know, "bad" generally means not aesthetically pleasing, and is subjective. But in "a bad accident" or more specific things like "a bad fall" or "a bad break" it means the extent of the damage, which is much less subjective (I suppose people could argue whether mere property damage counts as bad, or whether maiming or killed is needed).

Likewise, "looks" also generally means a value judgement -- "looks terrible but tastes great" or "looks hunky" -- but here means uncertainty due to not being able to see it well. If we see three cop cars and an ambulance we say it looks like a bad accident, since we can't actually see it. As we creep past it in stalled traffic we might change it to "oh wow, it is a bad accident".

Translated, we're saying "from what I can see, I'd guess a car got very smashed up in a collision". Someone might have a different opinion of how the accident looks, but it would be based on a better or worse sight-line, not their artistic sensibilities.


You should consider them to be subjective. An objective description of the crash- of the sort an accident investigator might produce- would quantify the degree of deformation to the vehicles, state which parts had been damaged, present a factual description of any injuries sustained by the occupants, and so on. Leaving aside the fact that 'bad' is vague, describing a crash as bad is a personal viewpoint- you can readily imagine a reply such as 'Call that bad? At least no-one was killed' etc etc, which simply underlines the point that whether a crash is 'bad' is a matter of opinion to some degree.

You could take a more relaxed view, and consider 'a bad crash' to be a short-hand for a detailed objective description, but I think you would be on a slippery slope there, since you could then treat virtually every subjective statement as being objective on the same grounds.

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    Seems like two uses of Subjective. The usual meaning is that people would rate 10 movies in completely different orders. They'd probably rank 10 car crashes in the same order, only differing in where to draw the line at "bad". May 27, 2023 at 11:26
  • Ok that makes sense. But let's say someone informed another person of this car crash and that person responded "That's not good." Would that also be subjective or is it objective considering a car crash is generally considered to be a "not good" event?
    – Jayden
    Jun 3, 2023 at 20:36

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