The Instigator
3RU7AL
Pro (for)
Losing
2 Points
The Contender
Ockham
Con (against)
Winning
3 Points

Science is not objective.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Ockham
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/28/2017 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 8 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,290 times Debate No: 102280
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (44)
Votes (1)

 

3RU7AL

Pro

Outline:
(1) Introduction and rules
(2) Undisputed definitions
(3) Disputed definitions
(4) Key support for resolution
(5) Reinforcements
(6) Common counter arguments
(7) Round 1 closing statement
(8) Sources

(1) Introduction and rules
Thank you for participating in this debate. I will be arguing in favor of the debate resolution, "Science is not objective."

(r.1) Please observe the principle of charity during the course of this debate.[1]
(r.2) Please do not attempt to unfairly shift the burden of proof to one side or the other. In round 3 both sides are expected to present their good faith arguments explaining logical support for the positive implications of their position being accepted and logical support for the negative implications of their position not being accepted.
(r.3) Please separate your arguments in each round into numbered sections in order to facilitate reason for decision (RFD) for potential voters.
(r.4) Please refrain from overt appeals to the voters in the debate rounds. This includes complaints about perceived rule violations. This rule does not apply to the comments tab.

Please feel free to paraphrase opposing arguments in order to seek further clarification if needed.

In order to qualify for this challenge, you must have completed at least 22 debates.

(2) Undisputed definitions: "science"
DDO member Ockham has agreed to the following definition[2]:

(s.1) "Science is systematic knowledge acquired by the application of logic to observation."[2]

Ockham has also provisionally agreed to allow common google.com definitions of words contained within these definitions.[2]

(3) Disputed definitions: "objective"
I would like to refer to a quote from CON that proposes a unique definition of objectivity,

"Something is objective if it constitutes a grasp of an object in a form appropriate to the subject. For example, a physicist's knowledge of physics would be objective by this definition (or so I would argue), since it constitutes a grasp of the traits of the physical world in a form appropriate to the subject, in this case the human capacity to form concepts and propositions."[2]

It would seem like "grasp" and "appropriate" are relative to the "subject" under this proposal, making such an observation the very definition of "subjective" which is at odds with the common definition of "objectivity" since they are mutually defined as antonyms according to common definitions.[3][8]

It would seem fair to consider the term "objective" to be fully incompatible with (or antithetical to) both the terms "relative" and "subjective".

I would like to point out that CON's proposed definition would fit the term "subjective" with absolutely no modification other than removing the word "objective" and replacing it with "subjective".

Please read the following with the greatest logical scrutiny you can muster,

"Something is [subjective] if it constitutes a grasp of an object in a form appropriate to the subject. For example, a physicist's knowledge of physics would be [subjective] by this definition (or so I would argue), since it constitutes a grasp of the traits of the physical world in a form appropriate to the subject, in this case the human capacity to form concepts and propositions."[2]

Do you see what I mean? I can detect absolutely no logical errors in the modified statement.

I would advocate for a more common definition of objectivity such as the following,

Objective: (o.1) (of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts. (AND/OR) not dependent on the mind for existence; actual.[3]

(o.1a) antonyms: biased, partial, prejudiced[3]
(o.1b) antonyms: subjective[3]

For contrast, I would like to present a common definition of "subjective":

(IFF) (sj.1) Subjective: based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions. (AND/OR) dependent on the mind or on an individual's perception for its existence.[8]

(sj.1a) antonyms: objective[8]

And (IFF) "subjective" is an antonym of "objective" (THEN) "objective" can not be "based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions. (AND/OR) dependent on the mind or on an individual's perception for its existence."[8]

(4) Key support for resolution
Let's analyze the resolution "Science is not objective."

(k.1) Science as defined in (s.1) implies that "science" is the "knowledge" (data) acquired by "observation" (ostensibly by a human or possibly by more than one human).

(k.2) I believe it is fair to say that human observation is impossible without a human mind and an individual's (definitively subjective) perception and this fact would logically place "objectivity" beyond the scope of the human mind and an individual's perception according to the definitions presented previously as (o.1) and (o.1b).

The resolution could be restated as (s.1) is not (o.1).

(k.3) Another way to say this would be perhaps, "knowledge acquired by (human) observation is not (and cannot be) independent of the human mind and/or beyond human perception".

(5) Reinforcements
As far as I can tell, Karl Popper's Philosophy of Science is generally considered authoritative. Please let me know if you dispute this and we can attempt another approach.

"According to Popper, basic statements are "statements asserting that an observable event is occurring in a certain individual region of space and time" (1959, p. 85). More specifically, basic statements must be both singular and existential (the formal requirement) and be testable by [*]intersubjective[*] observation (the material requirement)."[5]

Therefore "science" is not "objective" and does not require "objectivity". This seems to be a common misconception about the fundamental nature of "science" and by extension, just about everything else, including "law" and "ethics", some people even think they have "objective opinions".

"Science" seems to function perfectly well under Popper's model. I am unable to detect any benefit to imagining that any particular thing has some sort of (detectable?) "objective" quality or existence.

In fact, Immanuel Kant points out pretty explicitly that "objective" noumena is fundamentally undetectable and its "existence" cannot be inferred from observable phenomena.

"Even if noumena are unknowable, they are still needed as a limiting concept, Kant tells us. Without them, there would be only phenomena, and since potentially we have complete knowledge of our phenomena, we would in a sense know everything. In his own words: "Further, the concept of a noumenon is necessary, to prevent sensible intuition from being extended to things in themselves, and thus to limit the objective validity of sensible knowledge."[6]

"...to prevent sensible intuition from being extended..."[6]

The quote makes it sound as if Kant is trying to "put a box around the concept of objectivity" in order to keep people from making the mistake of thinking they can know it, or in-fact even speculate about it intuitively.

(6) Common counter arguments
I would like to bring your attention to the following quotes,

"We have shown that it is hard to define scientific objectivity in terms of a view from nowhere and freedom from values and from personal bias. It is a lot harder to say anything positive about the matter."[7]

"For instance, our discussion of the value-free ideal (VFI) revealed that alternatives to the VFI are as least as problematic as the VFI itself, and that the VFI may, with all its inadequacies, still be a useful heuristic for fostering scientific integrity and objectivity. Similarly, although an "unbiased" science may be impossible, there are many mechanisms scientists can adopt for protecting their reasoning against undesirable forms of bias, e.g., choosing an appropriate method of statistical inference."[7]

The above quotes are from the conclusions (section 7) of an extremely well sourced page from the Stanford.edu website that purports to be a thorough analysis of the concept of scientific objectivity.

One key problem with this essay, is that it never clearly defines the critical terms (i.e. "science" and "objectivity"), but instead merely reports various (definitively subjective) opinions about what "science" and "objectivity" might mean and how they may or may not relate to one another.

But setting that aside, in their conclusions they admit that although they can make some tentative statements about what "scientific objectivity" is not, they are at a complete loss to say exactly what it is (with any positive assertions). This reminds me of the "god in the gaps"[9] argument and would seem to be an example of the "appeal to ignorance"[10] logical fallacy.

They go on to argue that even if "objectivity" is perhaps (probably) an unattainable goal, it is still better than the (presumably shocking or frightening, yet undefined) alternative (clearly an "affirming the consequent"[11] fallacy). I would imagine that scientists, of all categories of people in the world would understand the dangers of pursuing an amorphous concept that presumably lends unquestionable authority to their conclusions.

(7) Round 1 closing statement
Feel free to expand upon and/or challenge any of the arguments described above or add your own. I look forward to having a civil conversation regarding the topic at hand.

(8) Sources
[1] https://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://www.debate.org...
[3] https://www.google.com...
[4] https://explorable.com...
[5] http://www.iep.utm.edu...
[6] https://en.wikipedia.org...
[7] https://plato.stanford.edu...
[8] https://www.google.com...
[9] http://rationalwiki.org...
[10] http://www.fallacyfiles.org...
[11] https://www.logicallyfallacious.com...
Ockham

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for setting this debate up. I think he has done a commendable job of organizing the issues, so I will address the issues in the same order. However, my point 1 in this post will be the same as point 3 in his post, since, as he notes, we do not disagree about his points 1 or 2.

1. The Disputed Definition of Objectivity

I will first discuss my definition, then my opponent's definition. I will argue that his criticisms of my definition fail once the definition is properly defended and that his own definition should be modified.

1a. My Definition of Objectivity

I wrote, "something is objective if it constitutes a grasp of an object in a form appropriate to the subject." Since this is an unconventional definition of objectivity, I need to clarify.

Traditionally, accounts of knowledge have been either intrinsicist or subjectivist. The intrinsicists, like Plato, think of knowledge as something that exists in itself, apart from the knowing subject. The subjectivists, like Hume, think of knowledge as a matter of the subject's mental states alone, with no necessary relationship to the object. The objective approach to knowledge, which I am defending, sees knowledge as a relationship between the subject and the object.

My opponent, being used to the clash between intrinsicism and subjectivism, mistakenly classifies my position as subjectivist. But I am taking a position substantially different from the position of someone like Hume. On my view, the nature of the knowing subject and the nature of the object, together, create rules for cognition that the knowing subject must follow. When knowledge is formed according to these rules, it is objective, not merely a subjective product of the subject's mental states.

I think it should now be clear why I do not see relativity as a problem for objectivity and why I do not see my definition of objectivity as equivalent to the definition of subjectivity.

1b. My Opponent's Definition of Objectivity

My opponent's definition of objectivity is as follows.

Objective: (o.1) (of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts. (AND/OR) not dependent on the mind for existence; actual.[3]

Now, this definition is not actually provided by my opponent's source, although he suggests it is. What my opponent has done is to combine two distinct definitions, that is, two distinct senses of the term being defined, and present their disjunction as a single definition.

I would suggest that my opponent modify his definition to include only the second disjunct, since it captures his meaning better than the first disjunct. The first disjunct is the practical, concrete meaning of objectivity that laymen use, translating essentially to "unbiased." This is pretty important for science, but my opponent doesn't appear to be arguing that science isn't objective in this sense, since he hasn't presented any evidence that scientists are biased.

The second disjunct is the intrinsicist definition of objectivity, which does appear to be the basis of my opponent's criticism of science. Moreover, the second disjunct encapsulates the first disjunct, since any conclusion, biased or not, is drawn by some observer. So I think what my opponent really means to do is define objectivity using the second disjunct, not the first.

So, I think my opponent's proposed definition equivocates between two substantially different definitions of objectivity, and tends to confuse the debate more than clarify it. He should define objectivity using the second disjunct, and leave out the first disjunct, which is about bias. The intrinsicist definition of objectivity is what the debate should be about.

2. My Opponent's Key Support for the Resolution

My opponent's argument in support of the resolution is a deductive argument from the definition of science and the definition of objectivity. Essentially, he points out that science requires a human observer. Since objectivity requires the absence of any human observer, per his definition, scientific objectivity is impossible.

The problem with this argument is that my opponent is criticizing science from outside of reality. We should form the concept of objectivity (or decide not to) by starting with the facts and asking whether, within the facts, we can mark out a distinction between conclusions that are objective and conclusions that are not objective. What my opponent has done, instead, is effectively to fabricate a strawman definition of objectivity that has no basis in fact or practical utility and criticize science for not measuring up to it.

Now, starting with the facts, can we find a distinction in reality that is worth calling objectivity? Yes. Science starts with careful measurements, and gradually builds up a series of inductive generalizations from those measurements. Over time, these inductive generalizations are integrated into broader generalizations encompassing more of the facts, eventually culminating in the largest, most detailed, and most useful body of knowledge the human race has ever seen.

For example, starting with countless detailed measurements of the positions of the planets over time, Kepler induced Kepler's laws, generalizations which correctly predict the movement of the planets over time. Later, Newton integrated Kepler's laws into his laws of motion, which encompass not only the motion of the planets but terrestrial observations like the paths of projectiles - and which eventually enabled us to land a rocket ship on the Moon.

I maintain that this procedure is fundamentally and obviously different from a subjective means of acquiring "knowledge," like that practiced by astrologers or mystics. This distinction, not some imaginary standard requiring a "view from nowhere," is what the concept of objectivity refers to.

3. My Opponent's Attempted Reinforcements

My opponent attempts to reinforce his argument using the philosophies of Karl Popper and Immanuel Kant. I will address each of these in turn.

3a. Karl Popper's Philosophy of Science

My opponent says that he thinks Popper's philosophy of science is "generally considered authoritative." It is true that Popper has a wide following among scientists, but from what I understand falsificationism is no longer a widely held position among philosophers of science.

At any rate, "authorities" carry little weight in philosophy. What matters are the arguments. I'm not sure what argument from Popper my opponent intends to be presenting in his previous post, so maybe he can clarify in his next response.

3b. Immanuel Kant's Metaphysics

Appealing to Kant is strange here, since Kant's goal in the Critique of Pure Reason was to defend the objective validity of science, albeit in a qualified sense of "objectivity." This was the purpose of the Transcendental Deduction. I don't think the Transcendental Deduction is a cogent argument, but my point is that Kant would not agree that science is not objective.

My opponent appears to argue against the resolution using Kant's distinction between noumena and phenomena, but I don't accept that distinction and he has provided no arguments for it. Kant did provide arguments for it, but my opponent has not used any of them.

4. Conclusion

I think my opponent has made an interesting case, but it is fundamentally based on a strawman definition of objectivity, and he has left several points in his reasoning undefended. I hope he will attempt to address these issues in the next round.
Debate Round No. 1
3RU7AL

Pro

(1) Disputed definition of objectivity
(2) Key support for resolution
(3) Reinforcements
(4) Conclusion
(5) Sources

I appreciate CON's candor in round 1. I hope we will be able to come to some agreement and I will continue my attempts to clarify my position and more fully understand my opponent's complicated views on the matter at hand.

(1) Disputed definition of objectivity
(1a) Paraphrasing CON's (1a) and rebuttals
CON states clearly in the previous round that the position they are defending,

"...sees knowledge as a relationship between the subject and the object."

As I stated in round 1, this would seem to be obviously a subjective position.

CON goes on in their attempt to justify their unique definition of objectivity by saying,

"When knowledge is formed according to these rules, it is objective, not merely a subjective product of the subject's mental states."

This statement, with its unidentified "rules" would seem to be beyond the scope of CON's proposed definition of objectivity (o.2)

It is unclear if CON is proposing that there is one set of unidentified "rules" that govern this vague standard of "objectivity" or if these rules are somehow self-evident and specific to each and every possible subject-object interaction. Either way, the definition itself does not seem to be qualitatively distinct from an accurate definition of "subjectivity".

(1b) Paraphrasing CON's (1b) and rebuttals
It was my intention to allow CON to pick either the first part of (o.1) or the second part of (o.1) or even to pursue them both if so desired.

I am perfectly happy to focus on the second part of the definition as CON suggests, however I am also fully prepared to explain why scientists are biased. I didn't present any argument for the inherent bias of scientists in the first round because I believed it was clear that a human being's perception is purely subjective by definition and scientists are presumably human beings. However there is some (very serious) evidence of wide spread bias in published scientific research.[1]

It is unclear to me if CON has agreed to the definition of objectivity as the second part of (o.1) or if they are merely attempting to narrow the scope of the definition so they can refute it somehow in the final round.

For the record, I do not believe that CON's proposed definition is acceptable for the purposes of this discussion.

(2) Key support for resolution
(2a) Paraphrasing CON's (2) and rebuttals
CON seems to have a fair grasp of my position when stating,

"My opponent's argument in support of the resolution is a deductive argument from the definition of science and the definition of objectivity. Essentially, he points out that science requires a human observer. Since objectivity requires the absence of any human observer, per his definition, scientific objectivity is impossible."

But when they say,

"The problem with this argument is that my opponent is criticizing science from outside of reality."

This would seem to be an impossible statement, unless I am uniquely "objective" or otherwise "outside of reality" like some sort of philosophical ghost. Unless perhaps, CON is maybe suggesting that I am fabricating a criticism out of thin air like some sort of rigorously logical fairy tale.

The accusation that I have fabricated some sort of devious straw-man definition of objectivity is patently ludicrous, seeing as how I have simply referred to the most perfectly common and mundane definition that is available.

Certainly the scientific method has yielded something that might be described as CON states eloquently,

"...the largest, most detailed, and most useful body of knowledge the human race has ever seen."

But that in no way implies that it meets the standard of "objectivity". In-fact there is no broad consensus that science meets any uniform standard for "objectivity", some scientist think "objectivity" is one thing and other scientists think it is something else.[2] The very definition of "objectivity" seems to be perfectly subjective.

CON tries to say that Kepler's methods are somehow in some vague and undefined way "different" from that of astrologers and mystics, but does absolutely nothing to marry this vague comparison to some sort of definitive and unequivocal standard.

While some methods of collecting knowledge may be "more intersubjective" and others may be "less intersubjective" or perhaps "more reliable" or "less reliable" which is all well and good, the idea that we need the term "objective" at all is an example of the fallacy, "affirming the consequent"[3]. In-fact even CON's own proposed definition (s.1) does nothing to require science to have the attribute of "objectivity". The one is not required or prerequisite to the other and instead they would seem to be incompatible, based on the common definitions of both terms.

(3) Reinforcements

Since CON seemed to miss this point completely the first time,

"According to Popper, basic statements are "statements asserting that an observable event is occurring in a certain individual region of space and time" (1959, p. 85). More specifically, basic statements must be both singular and existential (the formal requirement) and be testable by [*]intersubjective[*] observation (the material requirement)."[4]

Therefore "science" is not "objective" and does not require "objectivity". This seems to be a common misconception about the fundamental nature of "science" and by extension, just about everything else, including "law" and "ethics", some people even think they have "objective opinions".

"Science" seems to function perfectly well under Popper's model. I am unable to detect any benefit to imagining that any particular thing has some sort of (detectable?) "objective" quality or existence.

The key terms here are "intersubjective" and "basic statements". According to Popper, all scientific observations are based on intersubjective basic statements. There is no imaginary "objectivity" is required at all.

(4) Conclusion
CON seems to be basing their entire case on a perfectly unique and fabricated definition of the concept of "objectivity" (o.2) which strangely seems to be indistinguishable from the concept of "subjectivity".

I cannot agree to this definition.

I am not able to determine any sound logical support for this highly personal definition, CON's repeated attempts to "affirm the consequent" not withstanding.

This has been a very enjoyable debate and I look forward to the final round.

(5) Sources
[1] http://journals.plos.org...
[2] https://plato.stanford.edu...
[3] https://www.logicallyfallacious.com...
[4] http://www.iep.utm.edu...
Ockham

Con

In this post, I'm going to make some major clarifications of my concept of objectivity and apply them, while responding to some side points along the way.

1. The Disputed Definition of Objectivity

1a. My Definition

One of the main problems we're having in this debate, as we learn about one another's positions, is miscommunication. Therefore, in the interest of clarity, I will present my view as a deductive argument, starting from the definition of science given in Round 1.

1. Science is systematic knowledge acquired by the application of logic to observation.
2. Sensory observation is objective.
3. Logic is objective.
4. Therefore, science is objective.

The idea behind this argument is that if you start with objectively valid information from the senses and build from there by objectively valid logical steps, the system of knowledge you build up, science, will be objective. I think the form of the argument is valid, which is useful since it focuses the debate on the premises.

The basis for premise 2 is a philosophical position on perception called direct realism: "the theory that perceiving is epistemically direct, unmediated by conscious or unconscious inference" (The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy). Essentially, we perceive the world directly, unmediated by mental representations. When I look at a chair, I perceive the chair, not a mental image of a chair.

I do make a distinction between form and object in perception. So for example, when I see a chair, I perceive it in a different form from a bat that perceives the chair by echolocation. But this only shows that there are different ways of directly perceiving the chair - both of these ways of perceiving the chair are objectively correct, given the sensory organs that the bat and I have. If we perceived the chair in any other way, our senses would be deceiving us, and would not be objectively valid.

So, with regard to the senses:

1. Objectivity means the grasp of an object in a form appropriate to the subject.
2. The senses present their objects in a form appropriate to the subject.
3. Therefore, the senses are objectively valid.

Logic is objectively valid because it is based on axioms that are objectively true and self evident. These include the axioms that something exists objectively, that A is A, that I am conscious, and that the world contains real causal connections. The law of identity, which says that A is A, forms the basis for deductive reasoning. The law of causality, which says that an entity with the same (relevant) traits will always act the same way under the same circumstances, forms the basis for inductive reasoning.

On the basis of these axioms, we can move from individual sensory statements to broader generalizations about causality and deduce implications from the causal connections that we discover. This enables us to use logic as a tool to build up a systematic body of knowledge about the world which is objectively valid - science. But, since logic has to proceed from premises that we can see are true, and move by steps that are comprehensible to us, it constitutes the grasp of its objects in a form appropriate to the subject.

1. Objectivity means the grasp of an object in a form appropriate to the subject.
2. Logic results in a grasp of the object in a form appropriate to the subject.
3. Therefore, logic is objectively valid.

The rules of logic are the "rules" I was referring to earlier.

I hope it is now clear how my position differs from a subjectivist view of knowledge. Here are two ways my opponent can refute my position:

(a) If the senses are deceptive or invalid, then science is not objective. In that case, it would not constitute a "grasp of an object," so it would not meet my definition. It would just be a bunch of sky castles.

(b) If the axioms of logic are not valid, or if concept formation or induction are subjective or invalid processes, then science is not objective. Again, it would not be a "grasp of an object," because it would just be a series of cognitive distortions or arbitrary guesses.

Clearly, my position is substantively different from claiming that science is subjective.

I would like to add that most philosophers who object to the objectivity of science do make substantial arguments against either the objectivity of the senses or the objectivity of logic, they don't just stipulate a definition and call it a day. I interpret Hume and Nietzsche as saying science is basically subjective, but neither of them argued their case by making a simple two step deductive argument from the definition of objectivity.

1b. My Opponent's Definition

My opponent cites a paper which allegedly presents evidence that many published papers are biased. Even if the findings of this paper are correct, it just indicates a problem with the current peer review system in science, not some sort of metaphysical problem with science itself. The author of the paper himself recommends ways to mitigate the issues he points out, which is inconsistent with him regarding science as hopelessly subjective.

If he wants to show that science is not objective, he must show that this applies to well established science, not just a couple of recent publications. I have used examples like Kepler's laws and Newton's laws because they have been considered well established and uncontroversial for centuries. This is the kind of discovery my opponent needs to undermine to maintain his position.

He wonders if I was agreeing to his definition of objectivity. No, I was just recommending that he use one of the two disjuncts, since it seemed to express his point better. I intended part 2 of my Round 1 post as an objection to his definition - it does not start with the facts, as a proper definition should.

2. My Opponent's Key Support for the Resolution

My opponent argues that his definition of objectivity is "the most perfectly common and mundane definition that is available." That it may be, but it is a strawman nonetheless. There are no authorities on how to define terms in philosophy, since the terms themselves are often what is being analyzed. In fact, this definition of objectivity is an inheritance from Plato which should have been thrown out a long time ago, along with Plato's Forms and Kant's noumenal realm.

He points to the disagreement over the definition of objectivity and says, "The very definition of "objectivity" seems to be perfectly subjective." This is an odd argument to make when his own case depends on a specific definition of objectivity. It also contradicts his earlier assertion that his definition is "common and mundane." (Does everyone agree with him, or is there widespread disagreement? It can't be both.) At any rate, this is really another argument from authority - matters of philosophical truth are not settled by a public opinion poll, but by the facts.

He criticizes my use of Kepler and Newton, but hopefully my explanation of my concept of objectivity will have clarified this. The difference between scientific discoveries like Kepler and Newton made and astrology or mysticism is that the former are based on rigorous sensory observation (which is objective) and proceeds by means of the axioms and principles of logic (which are objective). The results, therefore, are objective.

3. My Opponent's Attempted Reinforcements

My opponent attempts to argue from Popper that the basic statements science starts out with are intersubjective, not objective. This claim is very implausible, and he offers no argument for it. (Really? "The light blinked twice" isn't objective?) But implausibility aside, this argument is self refuting, since it implies that the observations it itself is based on are only intersubjective, not objective.

4. Conclusion

This has been a long post, so I'll summarize my main points.

1a. Science is based on sensory observation and logic, which are both objective by my definition.
1b. My opponent needs to criticize well established science, not just recent publications.
2. Arguments from authority don't establish a definition in philosophy.
3. Claiming that all observation is merely intersubjective is very implausible and self refuting.

I have enjoyed this debate so far, and I look forward to my opponent's final post.
Debate Round No. 2
3RU7AL

Pro

(R3.1a) Round 1 summary PRO

Agreed on definition (s.1).

Disagreed on ad hoc definition (o.2).

Noted that (o.2) is not substantively or qualitatively distinct from (sj.1).

Noted that "objectivity" and "subjectivity" are mutually exclusive.

(R3.1b) Round 1 summary CON

CON's key support,

"On my view, the [undefined] nature of the knowing subject and the [undefined] nature of the object, together, create [undefined] rules for cognition that the knowing subject must follow."

CON does nothing to explain what these undefined (and presumably ad hoc) "rules" might be or why we "must" follow them.

CON frames this debate in terms of Plato vs. Hume and says he rejects both without any reference to a third (established philosophical) option that might support their ad hoc definition (o.2).

CON attempts to dispute (o.1) by insisting it be split into part "a" and part "b", but does nothing to explain why a common definition should be rejected wholesale in favor of their ad hoc (o.2).

CON attempts to characterize logically sound deductive reasoning, based on a common definition as a "straw man". This is a provably false characterization unless CON has decided to create a brand new ad hoc definition of "straw man" that I am unaware of.

CON dismisses Karl Popper and Immanuel Kant and in-fact all "authorities" in order to protect thier precious ad hoc (o.2).

CON specifically rejects "falsifiability" (without citation of proposed alternative) in (3a) which is, for the record,[1]

An important distinction to be sure, but seemingly completely off-topic.

CON closes round 1 by reitterating their unfounded and ridiculous "straw man" accusation.

(R3.2a) Round 2 summary PRO

Noted that the "rules" in (o.2) are undefined.

Noted that CON is perfectly free to choose any common definition of "objectivity" they wish, seeing as I am fully prepared to explain how they are all in conflict with (s.1).

Noted that it would seem impossible to criticize "science from outside reality".

Noted that the mere existence and apparent utility of "science" does nothing to imply that it qualifies as "objective". Lack of consensus on standards for "objectivity" would seem to imply "subjectivity" since "objectivity" would be something that people could presumably all agree upon easily.

Noted that forcibly retrofiting a definition of "objectivity" to fit into the framework of "science" is a completely unnecessary pursuit. The only identifiable motive could be to embrace the "affirming the consequent" logical fallacy, which in this case (the consequent that MUST be affirmed) would be something like "we must be able to label science as objective".

The key terms here are "intersubjective" and "basic statements". According to Popper, all scientific observations are based on intersubjective basic statements. There is no imaginary "objectivity" is required at all.

CON seems to be basing their entire case on a perfectly unique and fabricated definition of the concept of "objectivity" (o.2) which strangely seems to be indistinguishable from the concept of "subjectivity".

I cannot agree to this definition.

I am not able to determine any sound logical support for this highly personal ad hoc definition, CON's repeated attempts to "affirm the consequent" not withstanding.

(R3.2b) Round 2 summary CON

CON opens round 2 by promising to clarify (o.2) but then goes on to retrofit the previously uncontested (s.1) with their contaminated (o.2) bringing (s.1) squarely back into the contested defintions category.

CON states, "Sensory observation is objective". This is contrary to common definitions and established philosophical traditions as previously noted (Plato, Hume, Popper, and Kant).

CON appeals to "direct realism" which is more commonly known as "naive realism" or "common sense realism"[5] which is[5]. The key implication here would be that "what you see is what you get" and that the observer is presumed to be infalliable.

"
1.If one is directly aware of something, then one can have non-inferential knowledge of facts about it. (Premise.)
2.If one knows non-inferentially that p, then one's belief that p is infallible. (Premise.)
3.No belief about the physical world can be infallible. (Established by the possibility of illusion, hallucination, etc.)
4.Therefore, no one can have non-inferential knowledge about the physical world. (From 2, 3.)
5.Therefore, no one is directly aware of anything physical. (From 1, 4.)
"[6]

CON states, "Logic is objective". This is a slightly more debatable claim but a moot point seeing as the previous claim is obviously false and both of these claims must be accepted in order for CON's "logic" to be considered sound. Besides the fact that this could only hold true if all scientists explicitly stated full logical support for their scientific claims in order to have that logic verified by unbiased and infalible logical authorities (which is not currently the common standard).

CON also seems to be forgetting that sometimes what we call "logic" is not infalliable (for example, modal logic, inductive reasoning). How could someone know if their logic was sound unless it was verified by unbiased and infalible logical authorities?

CON states "(a) If the senses are deceptive [...] then science is not objective [...]" I would think it would be obvious that the senses can be deceptive (for example, the Gettier problem[3]) (or even by merely being imprecise) and quite beyond that, human language is often ambiguous and open to broad interpretation (not to mention the memory problem). So even if someone could be theoretically 110% confident in their "observations", their ability to mitigate the complexities of actually communicating them unambiguously to other people are severly impared and therefore not "objective".

CON further states "[...] if concept formation or induction are subjective or invalid processes, then science is not objective." It is perfectly clear to me that "induction" (inductive reasoning) is often considered unreliable and perfectly subjective (open to multiple interpretations).

For example,

"Hume presents us with a dilemma. If we try to justify induction by means of a deductively valid argument with premises that we can show to be true (without using induction), then our conclusion will be too weak. If we try to use an inductive argument, we have to show that it is reliable. Any attempt to do that leads to the same dilemma all over again."[2]

CON states, "My opponent cites a paper which allegedly presents evidence that many published papers are biased." This actually does show definitively that there is a lack of "objective" standards in science.

CON's reference to "[...] well established science [...]" is strange because "well established" conforms perfectly to Karl Popper's idea of intersubjective confirmation. The term "well established" simply means that it is currently accepted by most modern scientists. This is perfectly compatible with an intersubjective viewpoint. There is absolutely no reason to jump to the conclusion that any sort of "objectivity" is a logical necessity.

When CON says, "There are no authorities on how to define terms in philosophy [...]" this would seem to suggest that CON believes that terms defined by "philosophy" are essentially subjective, and I would tend to agree.

CON suggests that we reject Plato's Forms and Kant's noumenal realm and presumably adopt CON's personal ad hoc definition (o.2) instead. I would like to politely disagree, based on the currently available reasoning and evidence, I am unable to comply with this suggestion.

CON then proposes the question, "Does everyone agree with him, or is there widespread disagreement? It can't be both." To which my reply would be, there is disagreement, but the prevailing view would seem to carry more weight than a personal ad hoc definition such as (o.2), based on the mutually verified concept of intersubjectivity[4].

CON suggests that "[...] matters of philosophical truth are not settled by a public opinion poll, but by the facts." but then notably neglects to present "the facts" which they are ostensibly referring to.

CON struggles to use their personal ad hoc definition (o.2) to distinguish astrology or mysticism from science. However, I believe that astrologers and mystics might very reasonbly presume that their observations could be perfectly described by CON's, "constitutes a grasp of an object in a form appropriate to the subject."(o.2)

I believe the following standard to be much more distinct, "Popper stresses the problem of demarcation"distinguishing the scientific from the unscientific"and makes falsifiability the demarcation criterion, such that what is unfalsifiable is classified as unscientific, and the practice of declaring an unfalsifiable theory to be scientifically true is pseudoscience."[1]

In their round 2 conclusion, CON claims that Popper's "intersubjective basic statements" which comprise the foundation of science cannot be intersubjective.

Intersubjective: existing between conscious minds; shared by more than one conscious mind.[4]

This definition is perfectly reasonable and merely proposes that all observations, in order to qualify as scientific, must be verified by at least one other person.

(R3.3) Logical support for positive implications of "Science is not objective."

(IFF) "science is not objective" is true (THEN) science is subject to constant scrutiny and refinement.

(R3.4) Logical support for negative implications of "Science is not objective."

(IFF) "science is not objective" is false (THEN) science is infallible and authoritative.

(R3.5) Sources

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://philosophy.wisc.edu...
[3] https://en.wikipedia.org...
[4] https://www.google.com...
[5] https://en.wikipedia.org...
[6] https://plato.stanford.edu...
Ockham

Con

There is a lot of repetition of previous rounds in my opponent's last post. I'll just address the new points he raised.

My opponent's argument against direct realism fails to distinguish between observations and propositions. An observation is infallible - there is no wrong way of seeing a chair, it is just presented to you by your senses. However, your judgment about it can be in error, since it is subject to your choice. This is why optical illusions are possible - we perceive the illusion correctly, but we are inclined to form an incorrect judgment about it. Situations like this are possible, but rare, and we quickly learn to account for them.

My opponent uses Hume's problem of induction to object to induction. However, Hume's argument relies on inductive assumptions, so it is self refuting. Induction is axiomatically valid and cannot coherently be objected to, since any argument against it would have to employ it.

My opponent attempts to argue that intersubjective reasoning is sufficient by saying, "This definition is perfectly reasonable and merely proposes that all observations, in order to qualify as scientific, must be verified by at least one other person." However, he does not explain why two, or even a million, subjective opinions are any better than one. Entire countries have believed things that were so absurd we laugh at them today. I don't intersubjectivity, in the absence of objectivity, is worth anything
Debate Round No. 3
44 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by ebuc 8 months ago
ebuc
All animals have some degree of consciousness, via nervous system. Access to metaphysical-1, mind/intellect/concepts is not a given even for the human animal nor to any specified degree.

Most humans have much access to metaphysical-1, mind/intellect/concepts, most animals other than humans have very little access to metaphysic-1, mind/intellect/concepts. imho

ebuc
Posted by 3RU7AL 8 months ago
3RU7AL
Coveny:

Please identify a term or point of logic that you would like to dispute.

Here is your naked target:

For contrast, I would like to present a common definition of "subjective":

(IFF) (sj.1) Subjective: based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions. (AND/OR) dependent on the mind or on an individual's perception for its existence.[8]

(sj.1a) antonyms: objective[8]

And (IFF) "subjective" is an antonym of "objective" (THEN) "objective" can not be "based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions. (AND/OR) dependent on the mind or on an individual's perception for its existence."[8]
Posted by 3RU7AL 8 months ago
3RU7AL
Coveny:

(IFF) observation requires a mind (AND) objectivity requires independence from a mind (AND) objectivity and subjectivity are mutually defined as antonyms (THEN) all observations are subjective because they require a mind.

If you would prefer something other than common definitions, you must present them.
Posted by Coveny 8 months ago
Coveny
Ok give me the "there IS logically coherent evidence in support of B". Prove subjectivity within the confines of your defination.
Posted by 3RU7AL 8 months ago
3RU7AL
Coveny:

I think I figured out the problem.

You seem to be suggesting that I am employing the "appeal to ignorance" fallacy, which is, for example "if you can't prove A is true then B must be true" (without providing any other support for B).

I never said such a thing.

My argument is basically, there is no logically coherent evidence in support of A (AND) there IS logically coherent evidence in support of B, therefore, based on the evidence presented here, B is significantly more likely to be the case (since it has logically coherent support).
Posted by 3RU7AL 8 months ago
3RU7AL
Coveny:

Whether or not Ockham believes something is irrelevant.

There is only a problem if Ockham can't provide a coherent definition of "objectivity" that is somehow distinguishable from a description of "subjectivity".

If you want to play the burden-of-proof game, you must contest a definition.

I only need to provide evidence to support contested definitions.

Please present your preferred definitions, I am referring to common definitions but I am willing to entertain your definitions as long as they are logically coherent.
Posted by Coveny 8 months ago
Coveny
And I'm pretty sure Ockham believes is objectivity, but he can't "prove" it, just like you can't "prove" that we have personal feelings. This isn't about the burden of opinions.
Posted by 3RU7AL 8 months ago
3RU7AL
Coveny:

Please explain exactly what part of the following statement you have a problem with -

(IFF) observation requires a mind (AND) objectivity requires independence from a mind (AND) objectivity and subjectivity are mutually defined as antonyms (THEN) all observations are subjective because they require a mind.

I only need to provide evidence to support contested definitions.

Please present your preferred definitions, I am referring to common definitions but I am willing to entertain your definitions as long as they are logically coherent.

I'm pretty sure you believe you have a "mind" and "personal feelings" and I have faith in your effort to make some sort of point, but you really must present your alternative definitions and if possible, cite some sources as examples.
Posted by 3RU7AL 8 months ago
3RU7AL
philosurfer:

Please present a coherent argument (and cite sources) and refrain from indulging in "the genetic fallacy" and "appeal to ignorance".
Posted by philosurfer 8 months ago
philosurfer
YOU [are] the " general public " ... Ugh psshhhhh
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Coveny 8 months ago
Coveny
3RU7ALOckhamTied
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Total points awarded:23 
Reasons for voting decision: The best source was from explorable supporting Pro that scientists/scientific method wasn't infallible. This is a semantics argument the definition of objective. I feel like pro and con were talking about different levels of abstraction, but it was never addressed. Pro agreed to let Con pick Pro's definition, "dependent on the mind" was chosen. I agree with Con this definition is a strawman, because it's impossible for the definition to ever be applied. (at this high of a level of abstraction we can't "prove" anything, so objective become unattainable) These means Pro has no usable definition, but Con only has a weak one. As Pro showed Con did not validly prove where the distinction between subjective and objective as it reference interaction between the subject and the object. (Con should have brought up repeatable and peer review IMO) Con further hurt his position by saying sensory is objective, which Pro jumped on. So Con has the more convincing argument, but it's vague.