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

From: David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
Date: Wed Jan 07 2009 - 10:28:00 EST

I agree with Mike here except for the last sentence. Measurement doesn't
allow us to "move beyond" subjectivity. As you note, Mike, the choice of
what we choose to measure and how we interpret those measurements is not
purely objective. In addition, the choice of measurement method is not
purely objective. Statistical models are called "models" because they only
approximate reality.

I think Polanyi was right -- "subjective" and "objective" can't be
separated. And I think Bhaskar is right -- we make contact with reality
when we do science, and progressive knowledge is possible, but this realism
is always infused with the critical notion that every human knowledge claim
is situated and never purely objective.

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

On Wed, Jan 7, 2009 at 10:21 AM, Nucacids <nucacids@wowway.com> wrote:

> Don writes: "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."
>
>
>
> Coope replies:
>
>
>
> "I agree with Einstein; subjectivity is not pejorative term. Supposition,
> hypotheses, conjecture, theory, views, ideas, insights, and other subjective
> claims are all part of the process found in science. The intent of the
> statement was to show that they do not directly alter the foundation to
> science. Reliable and accurate facts are not altered by any opinion
> (scientific or otherwise). Also, part of the intent was to claim that
> religion and philosophy do not alter the facts directly, but indirectly.
> Nevertheless, subjective ideas are essential to finding things useful from
> the data. That is why I followed the statement with, "[Subjectivity can
> indirectly greatly influence science via the scientist and supporting
> parties, but the foundational measurements remain objective.]""
>
>
>
> I agree with Don on this point, as the sentence "Subjective claims have no
> direct influence on science" seems to be conflating science with
> measurement.
>
>
>
> Think of the scientific method observation, hypothesis, experiment. Psychologists
> have shown that we don't really passively observe, we actively perceive. Thus,
> the foundation of the scientific method, observation, is subjective. This
> subjective element then gives rise to the hypothesis, an expression of the
> mind's eye, and thus another layer of subjectivity. It's not until we get
> to the experiment that measurement comes into play (unless previous
> measurements are incorporated into the hypothesis). Yet, as I noted
> before, the interpretation of the measurements is subjective. But it's
> more than that.
>
>
>
> Whether or not particular experiments are conceived and/or performed is the
> consequence of subjectivity. To quote Francois Jacob:
>
>
>
> To produce a valuable observation, one has first to have an idea
>
> of what to observe, a preconception of what is possible. Scientific
>
> advances often come from uncovering a hitherto unseen aspect of
>
> things as a result, not so much of using new instruments, but rather
>
> of looking at objects from a different angle. This look is necessarily
>
> guided by a certain idea of what this so-called reality might be. It
>
> always involves a certain conception about the unknown, that is,
>
> about what lies beyond that which one has logical or experimental
>
> reasons to believe.
>
>
>
> I would say that subjective claims do have direct influence on science
> because they *guide* science at every stage. They influence what we
> perceive, how we explain, what we choose to measure, and how we interpret
> those measurements. Yet it is the measurement that allows us to move
> beyond this sea of subjectivity. For subjective claims have no direct
> influence on measurement.
>
>
>
> - Mike
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> *From:* George Cooper <georgecooper@sbcglobal.net>
> *To:* asa@calvin.edu
> *Sent:* Wednesday, January 07, 2009 10:01 AM
> *Subject:* RE: [asa] Objective vs. Subjective (and the Green Rules)
>
> Hi Don,
>
>
>
> Thanks for your views on the green rules.
>
>
>
> 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."
>
>
>
> I agree with Einstein; subjectivity is not pejorative term. Supposition,
> hypotheses, conjecture, theory, views, ideas, insights, and other subjective
> claims are all part of the process found in science. The intent of the
> statement was to show that they do not directly alter the foundation to
> science. Reliable and accurate facts are not altered by any opinion
> (scientific or otherwise). Also, part of the intent was to claim that
> religion and philosophy do not alter the facts directly, but indirectly.
> Nevertheless, subjective ideas are essential to finding things useful from
> the data. That is why I followed the statement with, "[Subjectivity can
> indirectly greatly influence science via the scientist and supporting
> parties, but the foundational measurements remain objective.]"
>
>
>
> Unfortunately, my statement does seem to be an overstatement and I need to
> word it better. Perhaps something like, "Subjective claims can not alter
> the foundation to science (ie. factual evidence)." Any advice?
>
>
>
>
>
> objective elements of any subjective claim [are open to scientific
> scrutiny]
>
>
>
> 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.
>
>
>
> The intent of this rule is to claim that any element within subjective
> claims that can be tested scientifically (objective measurements) is
> vulnerable to what science has to say about it as a result of those
> measurements.
>
>
>
>
>
> Geocentricity was not a subjective claim but a scientific theory that
> seemed to account for known observations (when you include the epicycles).
>
>
>
>
> All scientific theories are subjective claims but are noticeably different
> than other subjective claims (eg religion) since they are founded upon
> objective elements. Thus, theories are not cast in stone, but are models
> that intentionally require objective elements, allow testability, and
> include predictability. No better models exist for addressing natural
> phenomena. It was the objective elements of Geocentricity that allowed it
> to be shown as false since it made predictions such as both crescent and
> gibbous phases for Venus (Ptolemy's model, not Tycho's), and no stellar
> parallax, etc.
>
>
>
> 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.
>
>
>
> I am unclear what you are saying here. Scrutiny applies to all scientific
> theories and this scrutiny often presents very favorable results to theories
> that are the best models.
>
>
>
> Coope
>
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
>
> *From:* George Cooper <georgecooper@sbcglobal.net>
>
> *To:* asa@calvin.edu
>
> *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.
>
>
>
> Coope.
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> ------------------------------
>
> No virus found in this incoming message.
> Checked by AVG.
> Version: 7.5.552 / Virus Database: 270.10.3/1878 - Release Date: 1/6/2009
> 7:56 AM
>
>

To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Wed Jan 7 10:28:32 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Wed Jan 07 2009 - 10:28:32 EST