Lecture Notes.

Module Four: Session Four

Basics of Truth

Objective or Subjective claims

  • Objective claims have a truth value which is the same for you, for me, and for others.
  • In other words, if a claim is true, then it is true for everybody in the world and if it is false, then it is false for everybody in the world.
  • Example: "Milwaukee is in Wisconsin." Whether a person knows that this is true or not, or whether they believe it or not, the claim actually is true for everyone.
  • Example: "Slavery is wrong." If this claim is true, then it is true for everybody. One's agreement with the claim is irrelevant. Whether one owns a slave or is a slave or lived in the antebellum south is irrelevant. The truth value is the same for everyone.
  • Example: "Abortion is wrong." The nature of this claim is exactly like the one above. Only the noun is changed. People disagree about the truth of the claim, but the claim is objective. That's why people argue about it. If they agree with the claim, then they are saying, "This claim is true for everyone, even those who disagree with me." Those who disagree with the claim are saying, "This claim is false, even for those who disagree with me." Both of these examples have to do with human beings who are the same everywhere, always and forever. This demonstrates that most moral claims about humans are objective.
  • If something is a "matter of fact," then it is a objective issue.
    • In these cases, what "matters" is the fact.

  • Subjective claims are claims where the truth of the claim can reasonably differ for you, for me, and for others.
  • The important thing to keep in mind is that we're talking about the actual truth, not just one's belief. Subjective claims generally deal with preference and taste. These are matters that are not worth arguing about, because they affect only the individual and no one else.
  • Example: "I prefer women with lots of tattoos." Notice that there is no logical conflict with another person making the opposite claim.
  • Example: "My favorite football team is the Packers." It is neither right nor wrong to have the Packers as a favorite team. Also notice that there is nothing logically contradictory about another person saying, "My favorite team is the Saints.
  • Three tests to determine whether a claim is subjective.
    • Is claim about a matter of taste or preference only?
    • Is the claim limited only to the individual in question?
    • Is the claim about something trivial?
    • If the answer to all three is "Yes" then the claim is subjective.
  • Special Case:
    • There is a particular type of subjective claim that doesn't work with the questions above.
    • Doctors categorize symptoms into objective and subjective.
    • Some examples of objective things are a your temperature, blood pressure, and pulse. These can be measured and observed by another person.
    • Some examples of subjective symptoms are feeling chilled, dizzy, light headed, nausiated, etc. These feelings can only be felt by the patient, and cannot be independently teste, hence they are called subjective. Notice that these do not conform to the first and third test questions. No one prefers to be sick, and being sick is not trivial. However, it still conforms to the second question. It is limited to the patient.
  • If something is a "matter of opinion," then it is a subjective issue.
    • In these cases, what "matters" is the opinion and nothing else.

Quiz Quiz

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