Are 'optional values' better described as 'subjective values'?

Pete L's picture
Submitted by Pete L on Tue, 2007-05-29 03:40

I have a problem with the term 'optional values' in terms of its precision. I believe the term 'subjective values' more accurately describes what I see Objectivists refer to as optional values.

Let's assume the following definition of subjectivity taken from Wikipedia is valid:

"In philosophy, subjectivity refers to the specific discerning interpretations of any aspect of experiences. They are unique to the person experiencing them, the qualia that are only available to that person's consciousness. Though the causes of experience are thought objective and available to everyone, (such as the wavelength of a specific beam of light), experiences themselves are only available to the person experiencing them (the quality of the colour itself)."

What's wrong with saying, for example, that one's favorite chewing gum flavor is a subjective preference? Is it because Objectivists are fearful of allowing any glimmer of the word 'subjective' into their discourse? Is it a slippery slope once we say some values are subjective?

( categories: )

A Is A -- Man Is Man -- Luke Is Luke -- Pete Is Pete

Luke Setzer's picture

The objectivity of personal choices boils down to the nature of each individual as unique in some respects and universal in others.  You and I need food to live, yet your unique nature will lead you objectively to prefer some flavors and textures over others that I might choose based on my unique nature.

Luke Setzer -- Global Organizer -- PROPEL(TM)

Well Said

James S. Valliant's picture

Ethics is possible only because all human beings share the same basic values -- as human beings -- and all require the same virtues to achieve them. Thus, we must all be rational and productive -- and this is just as "objective" as our common need for food. But the specifics of Rick's values and Jim's values can vary widely -- Rick preferring to be a "productive" surgeon, but Jim an equally "productive" sculptor. Both require food, but Rick prefers lasagna while Jim eats filet mignon whenever he can. Neither can tolerate poison. Yet, even the fact that Rick enjoys and excels at medicine over other things is a fact, just as Jim's preference for filet mignon is a fact, and these facts are the result of other real facts about Rick and Jim. Rick's career is not a matter of whim any more than it is an opportunity to treat emotions as ends in themselves. Even Rick's individual values are "objective."

I got this. Values are the

Rick Giles's picture

I got this.

Values are the realm of ethics which is ever and always an objective discipline. If some object is determined to be of value to you, or not, that is a matter of fact, one way or the other.

What does not negate this philosophical finding is the circumstance that only one man may be privy to this matter of fact. Nay, even if there be no man within cooee of falling timber's earshot will the causal event be a non-event nor subjectivity claim sovereignty in the matter.

All right values and all valuations remain the providnece of reason alone- of objective reasoning alone.

This too is so when it comes to the Hubba Bubba of your desires. For though the science of quantifying taste and counting utils may be, as yet, under-developed it is not so of the philosophy.

The sugars and salts that react to your unique physiology for health and illhealth, pleasure and pain, are never subjective matters. They are matters of objective fact. Yes, even if you are the only witness.

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