DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-N074-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 20, 2024, from

Article Summary

Objectivity is one of the central concepts of metaphysics. Philosophers distinguish between objectivity and agreement: ‘Ice-cream tastes nice’ is not objective merely because there is widespread agreement that it is true. But if objectivity is not mere agreement, what is it? We often think that some sorts of claim are less objective than others, so that a different metaphysical account is required of each. For example, ethical claims are often held to be less objective than claims about the shapes of middle-sized physical objects: ‘Murder is wrong’ is held to be less objective than ‘The table is square’. Philosophers disagree about how to capture intuitive differences in objectivity. Those known as non-cognitivists say that ethical claims are not, strictly speaking, even apt to be true or false; they do not record facts but, rather, express some desire or inclination on the part of the speaker. Others, dubbed subjectivists, say that ethical statements are in some sense about human desires or inclinations. Unlike the non-cognitivist, the subjectivist views ethical claims as truth-apt, but as being true in virtue of facts about human desires or inclinations. Some philosophers, referred to as anti-realists, disagree with both non-cognitivism and subjectivism, and attempt to find different ways of denying objectivity. Quietists, on the other hand, think that there are no interesting ways of distinguishing discourses in point of objective status.

    Citing this article:
    Miller, Alexander. Objectivity, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-N074-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
    Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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