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Objectivity

The theme of tonight's discussion will be the concept of objectivity - as understood, worried over, and used by each of us when we make and justify claims. While certain famous philosophical names will probably get dropped (Kant is a kind of standard-bearer for the subjective/objective distinction), the focus will be on our own struggles to make sense of this concept, and on the interest we think it bears for various philosophical projects.

A convenient launching pad for thoughts, which might end up structuring our conversation to some extent: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objectivity_%28philosophy%29


Rating:

(no preparation or background expected; individual participants will explain technical jargon or dropped names if and as they introduce them)

(highly argumentative atmosphere; participants likely to stake out positions, argue for them, and critique alternatives)

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  • jerry

    Ivan, It's clear that there are two different contexts in which we are defining "objectivity". If we are agreed that "objectivity" is the absence of subjectivity, then no model can be objective, since all models are constructed by us and a life-size model of the world defeats its purpose. However, a model can be objective in the sense that it will compute what it will compute after it's constructed in spite of the desires of the constructor or whether you or I are present to examine it. Yet, since the model will always carry its history through the list of algorithms, one can't say that a model is ever objective because of its reliance on our decision to include/exclude parameters.

    1 · May 14, 2014

    • eric

      Jerry, you mean you are taking a 3rd person perspective on a first person perspective? No problemo. But you are not reducing or transforming the first person perspective into something else are you? It still remains a first person perspective which you are simply viewing thru the lens of a 3rd person perspective. The first person perspective is not subsumed in any way. It is just being interpreted or analysed from a different context.

      May 17, 2014

    • eric

      outofthebox, we share a common culture. That is, we have in common inter-subjective 2nd person perspectives and so can understand each other when we reference our subjective first person perspectives. I am not sure why you bring in empiricism? Are you using it metaphorically? I assume ancient cultures had 2nd person perspectives and could understand each other before there was ever the idea of empiricism.

      May 17, 2014

  • jerry

    Intelligence and Epistemology (how we know). The difficulty of many of the classical problems of philosophy are closely associated with the limits on our ability to look inside the black box (the human head). Today, we have other systems, capable of thinking like humans, whose black boxes are open to inspection. A powerful approach to many of the classical problems is to create an epistemology for computers, to see what light it casts on human epistemology. For more detail, see Philosophy Home Page. From: http://www.psy.cmu.edu/psy/faculty/hsimon/comp-sci.html

    May 16, 2014

  • Ivan

    I'll throw this out here. I think that what is properly subjective should be contrasted with what is objective. If we're not contrasting with objective determinations in a controlled fashion, we should avoid the word subjective.

    We have awareness, experience and naive impressions, and some people would call these things subjective. However, I think we should use a different term or else it will be confusing. Let's call these things simply first-person impressions. Whether something is subjective or objective is an inference we make *from* first-person impressions. Why do we think that mass is objective? Why do we think the external world is objective? Why do we think that beauty is subjective? It must be because patterns in first-person impressions give us positive or negative evidence for subjectivity/objectivity.

    1 · May 14, 2014

    • jerry

      Ivan, Ahhh...that's what we will be discussing on Saturday! :) How will I know if we have trained well or badly? Well, you can compare the results of "expert" intuition for solving a problem vs. a "novice". This implies that our intuitions are trained through a "delicate empiricism" (Goethe), that manner by which we carefully observe the world coupled to our desire to extract rules/laws through formulation of concepts that are tested against reality.

      1 · May 14, 2014

    • George

      Beginning with "impressions" makes sense to me (e.g. a cup of Filter's coffee rather than working late tonight).
      And I applaud the virgule here ("subjectivity/obje­ctivity"), whether meant as an inclusive "or" or, even better, as the directional "to" stroke.
      Sorry to miss out on this one-- Have fun.

      May 15, 2014

  • Brian

    HI Meata- If you RSVP +1 youll probably never make it on the list since if anyone else joins the waiting list(strangely) theyll be moved ahead of you. In order for +1's to be added, 2 spaces need to be open at the same exact time, which is rare

    May 14, 2014

    • Brian

      Does this make sense?

      May 14, 2014

    • Brian

      Ah, someone took care of it

      May 14, 2014

  • Adam

    The only justifications I care about are those with subjective value.

    1 · May 11, 2014

    • Ivan

      Jerry, antarctic ice melting is an objective model.

      As for bounded rationality, I prefer the ideal versus bias approach (Gigerenzer's second option). You can't even talk about the third approach without the second.

      May 14, 2014

    • jerry

      Ivan, I think this is the source of the difference in opinion. If I create an alternative model with a choice to exclude water temperature because I don't like it or because I've neglected it, the model output will be different. Therefore, my subjective choice to include/exclude parameters makes a difference in whether the objective deductions compute "true". Many would argue this makes the model "subjective" but you list below your argument for why we should still call this model "objective".

      May 14, 2014

  • Anneliese

    I forgot I have a friend in town.

    May 12, 2014

  • jean p.

    Close examination will reveal that the only objective thing in reality is pure subjectivity.

    1 · May 12, 2014

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