In this volume Rorty offers a Deweyan account of objectivity as intersubjectivity, one that drops claims about universal validity and instead focuses on utility for the purposes of a community. The sense in which the natural sciences are exemplary for inquiry is explicated in terms of the moral virtues of scientific communities rather than in terms of a special scientific method. The volume concludes with reflections on the relation of social democratic politics to philosophy.
The notion of objectivity is ambiguous. A distinction is made between three primary notions of objectivity: ontological objectivity, the objectivity of truth and epistemic objectivity. It is suggested that a realist may explain the relationship between the three notions by saying that use of epistemically objective methods stands the best chance of leading to the objective truth about the objective world.
The physiologist Johannes Müller’s doctrine of specific nerve energies had a decisive influence on neo-Kantian conceptions of the objectivity of knowledge in the 1850s - 1870s. In the first half of the nineteenth century, Müller amassed a body of experimental evidence to support his doctrine, according to which the character of our sensations is determined by the structures of our own sensory nerves, and not by the external objects that cause the sensations. Neo-Kantians such as Hermann von Helmholtz, F.A. (...) Lange, and Otto Liebmann took Müller’s doctrine to have far-reaching consequences for their epistemologies. Over the course of the 1850s - 1870s, these three neo-Kantians, each in his own way, argued that reflection on Müller’s doctrine ruled out a certain conception of the objectivity of knowledge. It ruled out the view that knowledge is objective in virtue of affording us information about objects in a mind-independent external world. -/- This paper traces how Helmholtz, Lange, and Liebmann developed their arguments for this view, and how each developed his own alternative conception of objectivity, according to which objectivity has nothing to do with a mind-independent world. Finally, the paper concludes by considering why these arguments modelled on Müller’s doctrine would have been so powerful against rival post-Hegelian conceptions of objectivity, especially those of scientific materialists like Ludwig Büchner. (shrink)
Prologue: objectivity shock -- Epistemologies of the eye -- Blind sight -- Collective empiricism -- Objectivity is new -- Histories of the scientific self -- Epistemic virtues -- The argument -- Objectivity in shirtsleeves -- Truth-to-nature -- Before objectivity -- Taming nature's variability -- The idea in the observation -- Four-eyed sight -- Drawing from nature -- Truth-to-nature after objectivity -- Mechanical objectivity -- Seeing clear -- Photography as science and art -- Automatic images (...) and blind sight -- Drawing against photography -- Self-surveillance -- Ethics of objectivity -- The scientific self -- Why objectivity? -- The scientific subject -- Kant among the scientists -- Scientific personas -- Observation and attention -- Knower and knowledge -- Structural objectivity -- Objectivity without images -- The objective science of mind -- The real, the objective, and the communicable -- The color of subjectivity -- What even a god could not say -- Dreams of a neutral language -- The cosmic community -- Trained judgment -- The uneasiness of mechanical reproduction -- Accuracy should not be sacrificed to objectivity -- The art of judgment -- Practices and the scientific self -- Representation to presentation -- Seeing is being : truth, objectivity, and judgment -- Seeing is making : nanofacture -- Right depiction. (shrink)
The mainstream view in the philosophy of language holds that every meaningful sentence has a truth-condition. This view, however, runs into difficulties with non-objective sentences such as sentences on matters of taste or value: these do not appear to be either true or false, but are generally taken to be meaningful. How can this conflict be resolved? -/- Truth Without Objectivity examines various ways of resolving this fundamental problem, before developing and defending its own original solution, a relativist theory (...) of truth. Standard solutions maintain either that in uttering non-objective sentences speakers make implicit reference to their own preferences and thus have unproblematic truth conditions, or that they have no truth conditions at all. Max Kölbel argues that both of these proposed solutions are inadequate, and that a third well-known position, minimalism, can only solve the problem if it is developed in the direction of relativism about truth. -/- Kölbel defends the idea that truth (as invoked in semantics) is a neutral notion: a sentence’s possessing a truth condition does not yet entail that it concerns an objective subject matter, because truth and objectivity are independent of one another. He argues that this notion of ‘truth without objectivity’ leads directly to relativism about truth, and goes on to defend one form of relativism against well-known objections. (shrink)
The paper presents a realist account of the epistemic objectivity of science. Epistemic objectivity is distinguished from ontological objectivity and the objectivity of truth. As background, T.S. Kuhn’s idea that scientific theory-choice is based on shared scientific values with a role for both objective and subjective factors is discussed. Kuhn’s values are epistemologically ungrounded, hence provide a minimal sense of objectivity. A robust account of epistemic objectivity on which methodological norms are reliable means of (...) arriving at the truth is presented. The problem remains that deliberative judgement is required to determine the relevance and relative significance of a range of methodological norms. A role is sketched for cognitive virtues which may be exercised in the course of the deliberative judgement. (shrink)
Scanlon’s Being Realistic about Reasons (BRR) is a beautiful book – sleek, sophisticated, and programmatic. One of its key aims is to demystify knowledge of normative and mathematical truths. In this article, I develop an epistemological problem that Scanlon fails to explicitly address. I argue that his “metaphysical pluralism” can be understood as a response to that problem. However, it resolves the problem only if it undercuts the objectivity of normative and mathematical inquiry.
I this article, I introduce the notion of pluralism about an area, and use it to argue that the questions at the center of our normative lives are not settled by the facts -- even the normative facts. One upshot of the discussion is that the concepts of realism and objectivity, which are widely identified, are actually in tension. Another is that the concept of objectivity, not realism, should take center stage.
During the last three decades, reflections on the growth of scientific knowledge have inspired historians, sociologists, and some philosophers to contend that scientific objectivity is a myth. In this book, Kitcher attempts to resurrect the notions of objectivity and progress in science by identifying both the limitations of idealized treatments of growth of knowledge and the overreactions to philosophical idealizations. Recognizing that science is done not by logically omniscient subjects working in isolation, but by people with a variety (...) of personal and social interests, who cooperate and compete with one another, he argues that, nonetheless, we may conceive the growth of science as a process in which both our vision of nature and our ways of learning more about nature improve. Offering a detailed picture of the advancement of science, he sets a new agenda for the philosophy of science and for other "science studies" disciplines. (shrink)
We present experimental evidence that people's modes of social interaction influence their construal of truth. Participants who engaged in cooperative interactions were less inclined to agree that there was an objective truth about that topic than were those who engaged in a competitive interaction. Follow-up experiments ruled out alternative explanations and indicated that the changes in objectivity are explained by argumentative mindsets: When people are in cooperative arguments, they see the truth as more subjective. These findings can help inform (...) research on moral objectivism and, more broadly, on the distinctive cognitive consequences of different types of social interaction. (shrink)
I discuss Benacerraf's epistemological challenge for realism about areas like mathematics, metalogic, and modality, and describe the pluralist response to it. I explain why normative pluralism is peculiarly unsatisfactory, and use this explanation to formulate a radicalization of Moore's Open Question Argument. According to the argument, the facts -- even the normative facts -- fail to settle the practical questions at the center of our normative lives. One lesson is that the concepts of realism and objectivity, which are widely (...) identified, are actually in tension. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to bring the resources of virtue epistemology to bear on the issue of the epistemic objectivity of science. A distinction is made between theoretical virtues that may be possessed by scientific theories and epistemic virtues that may be exercised by individual scientists. A distinction is then made between ontological objectivity, objectivity of truth and epistemic objectivity, the latter being the principal focus of the paper. It is then noted that a (...) role must be played by deliberative judgement in determining how to apply the theoretical virtues. It is suggested that such judgement may be virtuous in light of the exercise of the epistemic virtues. It is argued that the primary location of epistemic objectivity is the theoretical virtues, whereas the epistemic virtues of scientists play a subordinate role. (shrink)
This article develops an account of local epistemic practices on the basis of case studies from ethnobiology. I argue that current debates about objectivity often stand in the way of a more adequate understanding of local knowledge and ethnobiological practices in general. While local knowledge about the biological world often meets criteria for objectivity in philosophy of science, general debates about the objectivity of local knowledge can also obscure their unique epistemic features. In modification of Ian Hacking’s (...) suggestion to discuss “ground level questions” instead of objectivity, I propose an account that focuses on both epistemic virtues and vices of local epistemic practices. (shrink)
talk Oslo-Kant congress. In this paper, I explain why for Kant self-consciousness is intimately related to objectivity, how this intimacy translates to real objects, what it means to make judgements about objects, and what idealism has got to do with all of this.
In the section ‘Unity and Objectivity’ of The Bounds of Sense, P. F. Strawson argues for the thesis that unity of consciousness requires experience of an objective world. My aim in this essay is to evaluate this claim. In the first and second parts of the essay, I explicate Strawson's thesis, reconstruct his argument, and identify the point at which the argument fails. Strawson's discussion nevertheless raises an important question: are there ways in which we must think of our (...) experiences if we are to self-ascribe them? In the third part of the essay, I use Kant's remarks concerning the passivity of experience to suggest one answer to this question: in self-ascribing experiences, we must be capable of thinking of them as passive to their objects. This can be used to provide an alternative route from unity to objectivity. (shrink)
In this paper, I explain why for Kant self-consciousness is intimately related to objectivity, how this intimacy translates to real objects, what it means to make judgements about objects, and what idealism has got to do with all of this.
How should we understand the notion of moral objectivity? Metaethical positions that vindicate morality’s objective appearance are often associated with moral realism. On a realist construal, moral objectivity is understood in terms of mind-, stance-, or attitude-independence. But realism is not the only game in town for moral objectivists. On an antirealist construal, morality’s objective features are understood in virtue of our attitudes. In this paper I aim to develop this antirealist construal of moral objectivity in further (...) detail, and to make its metaphysical commitments explicit. I do so by building on Sharon Street’s version of “Humean Constructivism”. Instead of the realist notion of attitude-independence, the antirealist account of moral objectivity that I articulate centres on the notion of standpoint-invariance. While constructivists have been criticized for compromising on the issue of moral objectivity, I make a preliminary case for the thesis that, armed with the notion of standpoint-invariance, constructivists have resources to vindicate an account of objectivity with just the right strength, given the commitments of ordinary moral thought and practice. In support of this thesis I highlight recent experimental findings about folk moral objectivism. Empirical observations about the nature of moral discourse have traditionally been taken to give prima facie support to moral realism. I argue, by contrast, that from what we can tell from our current experimental understanding, antirealists can capture the commitments of ordinary discourse at least as well as realists can. (shrink)
Perceptual experience has the phenomenal character of encountering a mind-independent objective world. What we encounter in perceptual experience is not presented to us as a state of our own mind. Rather, we seem to encounter facts, objects, and properties that are independent from our mind. In short, perceptual experience has phenomenal objectivity. This paper proposes and defends a Kantian account of phenomenal objectivity that grounds it in experiences of lawlike regularities. The paper offers a novel account of the (...) connection between phenomenology and intentionality. It also sheds some light on one of the central themes in Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. (shrink)
What is objectivity? What is the rule of law? Are the operations of legal systems objective? If so, in what ways and to what degrees are they objective? Does anything of importance depend on the objectivity of law? These are some of the principal questions addressed by Matthew H. Kramer in this lucid and wide-ranging study that introduces readers to vital areas of philosophical enquiry. As Kramer shows, objectivity and the rule of law are complicated phenomena, each (...) comprising a number of distinct though overlapping dimensions. Although the connections between objectivity and the rule of law are intimate, they are also densely multi-faceted. (shrink)
This book is a study of the second-edition version of the 'Transcendental Deduction', which is one of the most important and obscure sections of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. By way of a close analysis of the B-Deduction, Adam Dickerson makes the distinctive claim that the Deduction is crucially concerned with the problem of making intelligible the unity possessed by complex representations - a problem that is the representationalist parallel of the semantic problem of the unity of the proposition. Along (...) the way he discusses most of the key themes in Kant's theory of knowledge, including the nature of thought and representation, the notion of objectivity, and the way in which the mind structures our experience of the world. (shrink)
Ever since the introduction of reflective equilibrium in ethics, it has been argued that reflective equilibrium either leads to moral relativism, or that it turns out to be a form of intuitionism in disguise. Despite these criticisms, reflective equilibrium remains the most dominant method of moral justification in ethics. In this paper, I therefore critically examine the most recent attempts to defend the method of reflective equilibrium against these objections. Defenders of reflective equilibrium typically respond to the objections by saying (...) that either reflective equilibrium can in fact safeguard moral objectivity or alternatively, even if it cannot, that there simply are no reasonable alternatives. In this paper, I take issue with both responses. First, I argue that given the non-foundationalist aspirations of reflective equilibrium, moral objectivity cannot be maintained. Second, I argue that reflective equilibrium is not the only game in town once intuitionism has been discarded. I argue that given their own normative ambitions, combined with their rejection of intuitionism, proponents of reflective equilibrium have reason to take alternative methods of moral justification, and more specifically transcendental arguments, more seriously than they have done so far. I end by sketching the outlines of what this alternative methodology might look like. (shrink)
This paper argues that Carnap's epistemological project in the Aufbau is best considered as an attempt to determine the conditions for both objectivity and understanding, thus aiming at refuting the skeptical contention that objectivity and understanding are incompossible ideals of science.
According to Helen Longino, objectivity is necessarily social as it depends on critical interactions in com- munity. Justin Biddle argues that Longino’s account presupposes individuals that are completely open to any criticism; as such individuals are in principle able to criticise their beliefs on their own, Longino’s account is not really social. In the first part of my paper I argue that even for completely open individuals, criticism for maintaining objectivity is only possible in community. In the second (...) part I question Biddle’s interpretation of Longino’s conception of the individual. I conclude that objectivity as Longino describes it is necessarily social. (shrink)
This paper develops under-recognized connections between moderate historicist methodology and character (or virtue) epistemology, and goes on to argue that their combination supports a “dialectical” conception of objectivity. Considerations stemming from underdetermination problems motivate our claim that historicism requires agent-focused rather than merely belief-focused epistemology; embracing this point helps historicists avoid the charge of relativism. Considerations stemming from the genealogy of epistemic virtue concepts motivate our claim that character epistemologies are strengthened by moderate historicism about the epistemic virtues and (...) values at work in communities of inquiry; embracing this point helps character epistemologists avoid the charge of objectivism. (shrink)
It is often claimed by theorists of truth that truth is objective. Upon reflection, however, this familiar principle can be understood in multiple ways. With this in mind, we have conducted empirical studies designed to elicit people’s responses to questions about the objectivity of truth. These studies suggest the following: (1) overall, individuals tend to endorse claims that are consistent with the objectivity of truth; (2) individuals’ conceptions of the objectivity of truth can be importantly different from (...) one another; (3) philosophers and non-philosophers both endorse the objectivity of truth, but the apparent commitment of philosophers is stronger. (shrink)
Climate change assessments rely upon scenarios of socioeconomic developments to conceptualize alternative outcomes for global greenhouse gas emissions. These are used in conjunction with climate models to make projections of future climate. Specifically, the estimations of greenhouse gas emissions based on socioeconomic scenarios constrain climate models in their outcomes of temperatures, precipitation, etc. Traditionally, the fundamental logic of the socioeconomic scenarios—that is, the logic that makes them plausible—is developed and prioritized using methods that are very subjective. This introduces a fundamental (...) challenge for climate change assessment: The veracity of projections of future climate currently rests on subjective ground. We elaborate on these subjective aspects of scenarios in climate change research. We then consider an alternative method for developing scenarios, a systems dynamics approach called ‘Cross-Impact Balance’ (CIB) analysis. We discuss notions of ‘objective’ and ‘objectivity’ as criteria for distinguishing appropriate scenario methods for climate change research. We distinguish seven distinct meanings of ‘objective,’ and demonstrate that CIB analysis is more objective than traditional subjective approaches. However, we also consider criticisms concerning which of the seven meanings of ‘objective’ are appropriate for scenario work. Finally, we arrive at conclusions regarding which meanings of ‘objective’ and ‘objectivity’ are relevant for climate change research. Because scientific assessments uncover knowledge relevant to the responses of a real, independently existing climate system, this requires scenario methodologies employed in such studies to also uphold the seven meanings of ‘objective’ and ‘objectivity.’. (shrink)
In this paper, I discuss the objectivity of science in the context of commercialized research. Objectivity has traditionally been associated with the behavior of individual scientists and their willingness and ability to base their reasoning on data and logic. By introducing some examples of problematic practices in current research, I show that this view is insufficient. A view that I call the Social View on objectivity succeeds better in accommodating the way in which commercialization affects research.
My question is: does phenomenal consciousness have a critical role in explaining the way conscious perceptions achieve objective import? I approach it through developing a dilemma I label ‘Burge’s Challenge’, which is implicit in his approach to perceptual objectivity. It says, crudely: either endorse the general structure of his account of how objective perceptual import is achieved, and give up on a role for consciousness. Or, relinquish Caused Representation, and possibly defend a role for consciousness. Someone I call Burge* (...) holds we should embrace the first horn of the dilemma. A second response, roughly the relationalist approach, opts for the second horn. The third option, implicit in many current approaches to perceptual consciousness, is to reject the dilemma. The paper argues for a version of the second response. The key argument turns on the development of a sceptical challenge to justify the assumption that we perceive particular intrinsic property instantiations, rather than their structural equivalents. The suggestion will be that only the relationalist approach can meet it in the way we think it is met. If this is right, there is a prima facie case for taking relationalist responses to the dilemma seriously. I end with two objections to this response, which might be made by the real Burge in defence of opting for the first horn of the dilemma, and by phenomenal intentionalists in defence of rejecting the dilemma. I use discussion of these to highlight one of the main issues that should be pursued in order to make good the claim that we should embrace the horn of the dilemma that Burge* rejects. (shrink)
This highly multidisciplinary collection discusses an increasingly important topic among scholars in science and technology studies: objectivity in science. It features eleven essays on scientific objectivity from a variety of perspectives, including philosophy of science, history of science, and feminist philosophy. Topics addressed in the book include the nature and value of scientific objectivity, the history of objectivity, and objectivity in scientific journals and communities. Taken individually, the essays supply new methodological tools for theorizing what (...) is valuable in the pursuit of objective knowledge and for investigating its history. The essays offer many starting points, while suggesting new avenues of research. Taken collectively, the essays exemplify the very virtues of objectivity that they theorize—in reading them together, the reader can sense various anxieties about the dangerously subjective in our age and locate commonalities of concern as well as differences of approach. As a result, the volume offers an expansive vision of a research community seeking a communal understanding of its own methods and its own epistemic anxieties, struggling to enunciate the key problems of knowledge of our time and offer insight into how to overcome them. -/- (Contributors: Alex Csiszar, Scott Edgar, Peter Galison, Ian Hacking, Sandra Harding, Moira Howes, Paolo Savoia, Judy Segal, Joan Steigerwald, and Alison Wylie). (shrink)
The first two parts of Objectivity and Insight explore the prospects for objectivity on the standard ontological conception, and find that they are not good. In Part I, under the heading of subject-driven scepticism, Sacks addresses the problem of securing epistemic reach that extends beyond subjective content. In so doing, he considers models of mind proposed by Locke, Hume, Kant, James, and Bergson. Part II, under the heading of world-driven scepticism, discusses the scope for universality of normative structure-a (...) problem which survives even after the assumption of an epistemologically significant breach between subject and object has been rejected. In the third part of the book Sacks introduces an alternative conception of objectivity, and shows that there is good reason to accept it. This conception turns on an insight which is taken to be implicit in transcendental idealism, and responsible for its abiding appeal; but Sacks's articulation of that insight is neither idealist nor metaphysical. (shrink)
In recent years, a renascent form of pragmatism has developed which argues that a satisfactory pragmatic position must integrate into itself the concepts of truth and objectivity. This New Pragmatism, as Cheryl Misak calls it, is directed primarily against Rorty's neo-pragmatic dismissal of these concepts. For Rorty, the goal of our epistemic practices should not be to achieve an objective view, one that tries to represent things as they are 'in themselves,' but rather to attain a view of things (...) that can gain as much inter-subjective agreement as possible. In Rorty's language, we need to replace the aim of objectivity with that of solidarity. While the New Pragmatists agree with Rorty's 'humanist' and .. (shrink)
Ascriptions of objectivity carry significant weight. But they can also cause confusion because wildly different ideas of what it means to be objective are common. Faced with this, some philosophers have argued that objectivity should be eliminated. I will argue, against one such position, that objectivity can be useful even though it is plural. I will then propose a contextualist approach for dealing with objectivity as a way of rescuing what is useful about objectivity while (...) acknowledging its plurality. (shrink)
Although there is increased recognition of the inevitable--and perhaps sometimes beneficial-- role of values in scientific inquiry, there are also growing concerns about the potential for commercial values to lead to bias. This is particularly evident in biomedical research. There is a concern that conflicts of interest created by commercialization may lead to biased reasoning or methodological choices in testing drugs and medical interventions. In addition, such interests may lead research in directions that are unresponsive to pressing social needs, when (...) it is profitable to do so. Feminist philosophy of science seems particularly well situated to provide resources to help address such concerns because this literature has both 1) theorized about how to minimize biases in science, e.g., sexist or androcentric biases, and 2) generated accounts of objectivity that do not require individual scientists to be value-neutral or disinterested. Two such accounts are assessed in relation to concerns about commercial bias: those offered by feminist empiricism and standpoint feminism. We argue that standpoint feminism is more promising because it has resources to address, not just the epistemological, but also the inescapably ethical dimensions of commercial bias. (shrink)
In contrast to the most common view, I argue that one can consistently affirm that fundamental moral principles are objective and invariable, and yet are dependent on God. I explore and reject appealing to divine simplicity as a basis for affirming this conjunction. Rather, I develop the thesis that God is identical to the Good (the Identity View or IV) and argue that the IV does not fall to the criticisms of simplicity. I then consider a divine will theory (DWT) (...) that claims moral principles are grounded in God’s will. When the IV is conjoined with a DWT, there is reason to affirm an objective, theistically based ethics. The IV and DWT proposed here are models and while I attempt to increase their plausibility, I do not argue for their truth. The IV conjoined with a moral theory such as DWT explains the dependence of moral principles on God, while allowing for objectivity since morality is rooted in the eternal unchanging standard of the Good. (shrink)
Some moral claims strike us as objective. It is often argued that this shows morality to be objective. Moral experience – broadly construed – is invoked as the strongest argument for moral realism, the thesis that there are moral facts or properties.See e.g. Jonathan Dancy, “Two conceptions of Moral Realism,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 60 : 167–187. Realists, however, cannot appropriate the argument from moral experience. In fact, constructivists argue that to validate the ways we experience the objectivity (...) of moral claims, realism must be rejected.Christine M. Korsgaard, The Sources of Normativity . There is a general agreement that ethical theory bears the burden of proof of explaining the objective-seeming features of our moral experience.While disputing objectivity, antirealists commit themselves to account for the objectivist pretensions of moral claims. Anti-realists agree with the traditional view that moral experie .. (shrink)
This book develops an explanation for the roles of observation and theory in scientific endeavor that occupies the middle ground between empiricism and rationalism, and captures the strengths of both approaches. Brown argues that philosophical theories have the same epistemological status as scientific theories and constructs an epistemological theory that provides an account of the role that theory and instruments play in scientific observation. His theory of perception yields a new analysis of objectivity that combines the traditional view of (...) observation as the foundation of scientific objectivity with the contemporary recognition that observation is theory-dependent. (shrink)
Although "objectivity" is a term used widely in many areas of public discourse, from discussions concerning the media and politics to debates over political correctness and cultural literacy, the question "What is objectivity?" is often ignored, as if the answer were obvious. In this volume, Allan Megill has gathered essays from fourteen leading scholars in a variety of fields--history, anthropology, philosophy, psychology, history of science, sociology of science, feminist studies, literary studies, and accounting--to gain critical understanding of the (...) idea of objectivity as it functions in today's world. In diverse essays the authors provide fascinating studies of objectivity in such areas as anthropological research, corporate and governmental bureaucracies, legal discourse, photography, and the study and practice of the natural sciences. Taken together, Megill argues, this volume calls for developing a notion of "objectivities." The absolute sense of objectivity--that is, objectivity as a "God's eye view"--must be supplemented, and in part supplanted, by disciplinary, procedural, and dialectical senses of objectivity. This book will be of great interest to a broad range of scholars as it presents current thinking on a topic of fundamental concern across the disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. _Contributors._ Barry Barnes, Dagmar Barnouw, Lorraine Code, Lorraine Daston, Johannes Fabian, Kenneth J. Gergen, Mary E. Hawkesworth, Barbara Herrnstein Smith, Evelyn Fox Keller, George Levine, Allan Megill, Peter Miller, Andy Pickering, Theodore M. Porter. (shrink)
The issues I explore in this paper are best introduced by the table with which it begins. The left-hand entry in each row gives expression to a kind objectivity; the right-hand entry affirms the existence of a special kind of object. When philosophers believe in any of the entities on the right, it is typically because they think them necessary to ground the facts on the left. By the same token, when philosophers deny any of the facts on the (...) left, it is often because they cannot bring themselves to believe in the associated kind of object on the right. My project is to explore the extent to which it is possible to have the objectivity without the objects—for example, absolute motion without substantival space, objective predication without universals, objective synonymy without propositions, and objective modality without possible worlds. Each of these combinations would have been congenial to A.N. Prior. (shrink)
Under the influence of naturalistic approaches, contemporary philosophy of science tends to characterize scientific objectivity not by virtue of the individualistic following of rules or satisfying epistemic utilities, but as a property arising from the organisational features of groups. This paper presents a critical review of one such proposal, that of Helen Longino, probing some of its main features against the debate between Pasteur and Pouchet in mid-nineteenth-century France regarding the spontaneous generation of life. After considering some weaknesses and (...) strengths, it is argued that Longino’s social epistemology is only able to generate normativity by implicitly assuming a classic procedural notion of epistemic acceptability. The paper also aims to use this historical case to shed light on the complex, multidimensional nature of the dynamics of actual science, arguing both against purely epistemic and exclusively social approaches in a satisfactory meta-scientific explanation of controversies. (shrink)
This chapter focuses on the notion of color as a property of the surfaces of objects. It considers three positions on what colors are: objectivist, subjectivist, and relationalist. Examination of the arguments of the objectivists will help us understand how they seek to reduce color to a physical property of object surfaces. Subjectivists, by contrast, seek to argue that no such reduction is possible, and hence that color must be wholly subjective. This chapter argues that when functional considerations are taken (...) into account, a relationalist position best accommodates the primary data concerning color perception, and permits a better understanding of the ways in which color is both objective and subjective. The chapter ends with a reconsideration of the notions of objectivity and subjectivity themselves, and a consideration of how modern technology can foster misleading expectations about the specificity of color properties. (shrink)
This paper argues that Weyl's view that scientific objectivity requires that concepts be freely created, i.e., introduced via Hilbert-style axiomatizations, led him to abandon the phenomenological view of objectivity, and more particularly the connection between objectivity and evidence (understood in a Husserlian sense as a satisfaction of meaning intentions).
The aim of the paper is to discuss some possible connections between philosophical proposals about the social organisation of science and developments towards a greater democratisation of science policy. I suggest that there are important similarities between one approach to objectivity in philosophy of science—Helen Longino’s account of objectivity as freedom from individual biases achieved through interaction of a variety of perspectives—and some ideas about the epistemic benefits of wider representation of various groups’ perspectives in science policy, as (...) analysed by Mark Brown. Given these similarities, I suggest that they allow one to approach developments in science policy as if one of their aims were epistemic improvement that can be recommended on the basis of the philosophical account; analyses of political developments inspired by these ideas about the benefits of inclusive dialogue can then be used for understanding the possibility to implement a philosophical proposal for improving the objectivity of science in practice. Outlining this suggestion, I also discuss the possibility of important differences between the developments in the two spheres and show how the concern about the possible divergence of politically motivated and epistemically motivated changes may be mitigated. In order to substantiate further the suggestion I make, I discuss one example of a development where politically motivated and epistemically motivated changes converge in practice—the development of professional ethics in American archaeology as analysed by Alison Wylie. I suggest that analysing such specific developments and getting involved with them can be one of the tasks for philosophy of science. In the concluding part of the paper I discuss how this approach to philosophy of science is related to a number of arguments about a more politically relevant philosophy of science. (shrink)
In “Correspondence to Reality in Ethics”, Mario Brandhorst examines the view of ethics that Wittgenstein took in his later years. According to Brandhorst, Wittgenstein leaves room for truth and falsity, facts, correspondence and reality in ethics. Wittgenstein's target, argues Brandhorst, is objectivity. I argue that Brandhorst's arguments in favour of truth, facts, reality and correspondence in ethics invite similar arguments in favour of objectivity, that Brandhorst does not recognise this because his conception of objectivity is distorted by (...) a Platonist picture and that he misinterprets the passage which he takes to support a Wittgensteinian case against objectivity. (shrink)
Assumptions about the epistemic ideal of objectivity, closely related to ontological assumptions about the nature of disease as pathophysiological abnormality, lead us into oversimplified ways of thinking about medical imaging. This is illustrated by current controversies in the early detection of cancer. Improvements in the technical quality of imaging failed to address the problem of overdiagnosis in breast cancer screening and exacerbate the problem in thyroid cancer diagnosis. Drawing on Douglas and on Daston and Galison, I distinguish 3 dimensions (...) of objectivity (accuracy, reliability, and precision) and demonstrate ways they may be at odds, as illustrated in the early detection of cancer. Guidelines for evaluating the efficacy of diagnostic imaging are insufficiently sensitive to this complexity. Improving imaging quality may raise epistemic issues, place disease definitions in question, and lead to overall harm or to changes in the distribution of harms and benefits among population subgroups. With a nod to Wittgenstein, I argue that we cannot take for granted that “an indistinct picture” is not “exactly what we need.” . (shrink)
ABSTRACT: Frege, and others who followed him, stressed the role of fallibility as a means to defining ‘objectivity.’ By defining objective judgments as fallible, these philosophers contributed to the consolidation of a theory of objectivity which suggested interpreting epistemological, as well as other judgements, as being objective. An important philosophical implication of this theory lies in its disclosure of the interrelations between truth and objectivity. In light of this insight, and based on an analysis of instances of (...) false (epistemological and other) judgments, I show that truth and objectivity go hand-in-hand, while falsity and objectivity do not. This finding alone indicates the necessity to revise the theory of objectivity. (shrink)
Davidson and Husserl both arrived independently at a startling conclusion: that we need to interact with others in order to acquire the concept of objectivity, or to realize that the world we are in exists independently of us. Here I discuss both of their arguments, and argue that there are problems with each. However, I then I argue that each thinker provided us with one key insight that can be combined to provide a more compelling argument for the claim. (...) Finally I discuss some recent work in developmental psychology that may lend support to the view that emerges. (shrink)
Notes on Contributors • Preface • Christopher Peacocke, Introduction: The Issues and their Further Development I OBJECTIVE THOUGHT • John Campbell, Objects and Objectivity Commentaries • Bill Brewer, Thoughts about Objects, Places and Times • John O'Keefe, Cognitive Maps, Time and Causality II OBJECTIVITY AND THE UNITY OF CONSCIOUSNESS • Susan Hurley, Unity and Objectivity Commentaries • Anthony Marcel, What is Relevant to the Unity of Consciousness? • Michael Lockwood, Issues of Unity and Objectivity III UNDERSTANDING (...) THE MENTAL:THEORY OR SIMULATION • MARTIN DAVIES, The Mental Simulation Debate Commentaries • Jane Heal, Simulation vs. Theory Theory: What is at Issue? • Josef Perner, The Necessity and Impossibility of Simulation. (shrink)