Re: [asa] Objective vs. Subjective (and the Green Rules)

From: Don Winterstein <>
Date: Wed Jan 07 2009 - 01:51:52 EST

subjective opinions...are usually made public

Stating an opinion does not mean the subjective (private) feeling that gave rise to the opinion is thereby made public. The feeling is still private; what's in the public domain is only the words that may or may not have been intended to convey the feeling. Those words become objects which others interpret as they wish.

Subjective claims have no direct influence on science.

On the contrary; subjective claims are what drive progress in formulating scientific theory. We sometimes call them hypotheses. A. Einstein: "The theorist who undertakes [to flesh out a theory] should not be carped at as 'fanciful'; on the contrary, he should be encouraged to give free reign to his fancy, for there is no other way to the goal."

objective elements of any subjective claim

A subjective claim once stated is an arrangement of words now divorced from the private feelings that gave rise to it. Every word of the subjective claim is an object in the public domain. So yes, both the words and their meaning can be scrutinized--but not the feelings that gave rise to them.

Geocentricity was not a subjective claim but a scientific theory that seemed to account for known observations (when you include the epicycles). If a theory were required to be correct before we could call it a scientific theory, there wouldn't be any such thing as a scientific theory.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: George Cooper<>
  Sent: Tuesday, January 06, 2009 11:07 AM
  Subject: RE: [asa] Objective vs. Subjective (and the Green Rules)


  "Could we not simply define "objective" as being that which can be measured...."


  Don said, "That's close, but I prefer "public" versus "private." Information that's public is info that people can obtain in principle if they have the resources and the motivation. Information that's private is info that in principle cannot be checked out by anyone but has come to an individual via personal experience. Science works partly because it restricts itself to public info; but that does not mean private info is necessarily any less valid: It just may not be valid to anyone other than the one who received it.


  The distinction between private and public is helpful in understanding the important differences between objectivity and subjectivity. But subjective opinions (and paintings) are usually made public and open for debate as to their merit, except in monologues, so the "public" term is easily lost in its general definition.



  I would like to present something I have had a little help with I call the "Green rules" - they seem too basic so I chose to add a little color to them.


  Relationship rules for Objective and Subjective claims.


  1) The objective elements of any subjective claim are open to scientific scrutiny.


  2) Any subjective claim, scientific or otherwise, is also affected by the manner in which the subjective claim uses the objective claim for basis/support/justification.


  3) Science has influence upon subjective claims in proportion to the weight science can bear upon the objective elements within them. This weight is a product of the strength that science has in the respective area of knowledge, and the amount of exposure within the subjective claim that the objective elements have to this "pressure" from science.


  4) Subjective claims have no direct influence on science. [Subjectivity can indirectly greatly influence science via the scientist and supporting parties, but the foundational measurements remain objective.]



  I would appreciate comment, as I feel these are a bit too green (a worse pun, sorry).


  These can be applied to almost any religious or philosophical claim. Consider the Geocentric claim that was supposedly seen as biblical. What changed the opinion of the Church? It wasn't Galileo during his house arrest for advocating the Heliocentric model. It was the fact that the religious claim that the Earth was the center of the universe, and related claims (eg. perfect celestial orbs) included objective elements within the claim that allowed scientific scrutiny, when technology improved, to influence the credibility of the Geocentric claim. The Church elected to reject the initial scrutiny that Galileo thrust upon them, but eventually they were too impacted by objective evidence to hold onto their Aristotlean/Ptolemy/Aquinas view, or the adopted Tychonic model by the Jesuit scholars.










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Received on Wed Jan 7 01:52:55 2009

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