“Subjectivity” and “objectivity” are two sociological or philosophical concepts that are used in describing human consciousness (Madik, Subjectivity & Objectivity) Based on their modern usage, the terms relate to the conception of “the object” (that is, the perceived or unperceived), and “the perceiving subject” (usually a human). The object, in this case, is presumed to be anything that exists outside of the subject, that is, the perceiver. The object could also be said to exist with or without the presence of the perceiver. The perceiving subject can perceive the inherent features of the object either in connection to or as independent of the object (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy; Quine, 1960).
In the cognitive process of decision making, these related philosophical concepts play a significant role, especially in forming our experiences, thoughts, and perception. Our perspective and/or perception of the world around us are indeed based on these concepts. Basically, they cannot be separated from the operations of the mind.
In this article, we will be, briefly, examining objectivity vs subjectivity so as to fully understand their differences.
As described in a paper by the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World of Brown University, objectivity “is a theoretical perspective that is omniscient, neutral, and detached with respect to a certain attribute or set of attributes.” In other words, objectivity, when we remove individual perspective from the perception of an object and perceive it as what it truly is in the real world, were practising objectivity (Rorty, 1991; Moser, 1993; Quine, 1960).
Objectivity maintains the belief that scientific claims, processes, and findings should not be determined by individual or “subjective” perspectives; they must be independent of personal interest, societal bias, value commitments, and other related conceptions (Burge, 2010). The idea is that perception must be based on clear facts in reality and be eliminated from individual perspectives. When perception is met without bias, interests, or sentiments, it is said to be subjective (Miller, 1998).
Philosophers and scientists use the term “scientific objectivity” to refer to the neutrality of scientific judgments (Nagel, 1986). Judgments are considered objective if they’re completely free of partiality and external influence and are backed up with substantial and naturally compelling evidence about perception.
They also use the term “objective reality” to refer to attributes that are independent of one’s conscious awareness (whether through thought, perception, or any other means) (Rorty, 1979).
“Ethical objectivism”, another concept under philosophy, is based on the idea that the validity (truth or falsity) of any moral judgment doesn’t depend on cultural beliefs or the personal feelings of an individual. Philosophers with this idea believe that moral propositions are like empirical judgments, as in chemistry, mathematics, physics, history, etc. They are undeterred by culture or personal beliefs and are always, universally true, no matter what. In simpler words, moral objectivists believe that the rightness or wrongness of an object or proposition doesn’t depend on personal feelings or opinions about the proposition or object.
On the other hand, subjectivity is based on the principle that appearance is different from reality. The way we perceive objects is entirely different from how they truly are in reality. This is a part of human consciousness in which judgments are influenced by personal beliefs, emotions, or perspectives. Subjectivity refers to how reality or truth is experienced-based personal influences, information, or biases of a person or group of people (Robert, 2005).
According to Wikipedia, subjectivity is “the collection of the perceptions, experiences, expectations, and personal or cultural understanding of, and beliefs about, an external phenomenon, that are specific to a subject.”
The major advocates of subjectivity were Descartes, Kant, and Satre, with each of them viewing this idea differently in their explanations of reality, truth, consciousness, personhood, and agency.
In contrast with objectivity, this concept espouses that the truth or falsity of the arguments we develop about our experiences of the world are chiefly based on the previously formed beliefs which can be influenced by culture, religion, etc.
In sociology, subjectivity appears as a result of individualism and socialism. That is, as a result of a person’s feelings or beliefs and as a result of the interaction individuals have with others in their community (Strazzoni, 2015). Subjectivity is viewed as being an aspect of certain experiences or the formation of human realities. This has to do with how an individual perceives and interacts with their human experiences as well with things that form these experiences (objects, nature, and consciousness) (Rahimi, 2015). So, the discrepancies that exist between different cultures result in us having alternate views or experiences of humanity, and this forms our individual lives in different ways.
Ethical subjectivism espouses the belief that the truth or falsity of moral judgments is determined by people’s feelings, beliefs, cultures, values, and attitudes. The non-cognitive version of ethical subjectivism is emotivism which espouses that human judgments about morality are only influenced by personal emotions or associations. That is, our emotions are what determines what can be said to be true or false (Silverman, 2014).
The distinction between objectivity vs subjectivity has helped us in understanding two things;
1. The differences between two philosophical concepts used in explaining human consciousness but
2. Also, it helps understand the two workings of the human mind in the perception of reality. Objectivity posits that we view the world as it really is not based on personal beliefs or other determining factors. Subjectivity, on the other hand, presents us with the other aspect that views reality based on human perception and perspective.