RE: [asa] Objective vs. Subjective

From: Dehler, Bernie <>
Date: Tue Jan 06 2009 - 11:45:40 EST

David said:
"Nothing is really "objective." All knowledge claims are personal."

I think that is nonsense. If I say the earth revolves around the sun, isn't that objective? If not, why not?

From: [] On Behalf Of David Opderbeck
Sent: Monday, January 05, 2009 11:53 AM
To: Nucacids
Subject: Re: [asa] Objective vs. Subjective

The problem is that "objective" and "subjective" are simply outmoded categories. Nothing is really "objective." All knowledge claims are personal.

David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology

On Mon, Jan 5, 2009 at 2:47 PM, Nucacids <<>> wrote:

Hi all,

We have all been shaped by a culture that assigns high value to "objective knowledge" and low value to "subjective knowledge." So it would help if we made an effort to define both the objective and the subjective.

Let's begin with the dictionary, as the dictionary conveys the manner in which words are commonly understood and thus best reflects what people are trying to communicate. The dictionary defines 'objective' as follows:

"not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased: an objective opinion.

intent upon or dealing with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings, as a person or a book.

being the object of perception or thought; belonging to the object of thought rather than to the thinking subject

of or pertaining to something that can be known, or to something that is an object or a part of an object; existing independent of thought or an observer as part of reality."

We could coalesce these definitions and define objective knowledge to mean knowledge about things external to our minds that does not depend on feelings, interpretations, or prejudice. In other words, it is unbiased knowledge about the world around us.

Now, let us use the dictionary to define 'subjective':

"existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought

pertaining to or characteristic of an individual; personal; individual: a subjective evaluation."

So we can define subjective knowledge as that which exists in the mind, intertwined with someone's biases, and pertains to the one who holds the knowledge.

Are there any problems with these definitions?

- Mike Gene

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Received on Tue Jan 6 11:46:16 2009

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