Objective vs subjective existence

  • Some things, like the existence of earth or water, are objective because their existence does not depend on anyone's beliefs or judgments.
  • Other things depend for their existence on people's beliefs or judgments, such as the Supreme Court, art, or currency.

Ethics is subjective if it depends on our beliefs. What is more controversial is to consider if the existence of ethics itself - what is right, wrong, good, bad, etc. depend on our beliefs. 

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Think Ethics is Subjective? Think Again. And Again, and Again…

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Consider this question: "How can I make ethically objective judgments when judgments are, by definition, subjective?"

  • Does the statement mean judgments are biased? Yet, not all judgments are biased.
  • If "judgements are subjective" mean judgments are made by you, it does not mean that they are problematic or biased or unreliable.
  • If "judgments are subjective" means your judgments are not factual, it is a subjective statement, as the fact that you're making a judgment about what's right/wrong doesn't imply that you're judging a non-factual issue.

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An objective person will make a judgment independently of their personal interest. If they aren't distant from the judgment, they're subjective or biased.

  • Being biased comes in degrees. Some may have too much interest in the issue.
  • The process by which one forms the judgment might be biased if one was inappropriately, unfairly, or irrationally influenced.

If by saying "ethics is subjective", you mean everyone's ethical judgments are always biased, it may be false.

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Ethics is not subjective

Thinking that ethics is subjective creates bad arguments.

People use the word subjective - and objective - in ways that lead to confusion, misguided conclusions, and failed attempts to convince someone that ethics matters. Thinking carefully about distinctions and words and concepts enables us to see the world more clearly, enabling us to draw better conclusions and decisions.

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There are many issues one can debate. In some of those debates, the correct answer is objective and in other issues, it's subjective. Or put another way, some issues are factual and others issues are non-factual.

When the issue being debated is factual, people can be wrong or incorrect. However, people can't be wrong when non-factual issues are debated, e.g. whether chocolate is better than vanilla.

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When people say, "how you see the world is subjective," they mean "how you see the world depends on your experiences." This statement is about the basis or cause of a judgement/belief and not about the judgment itself nor what the judgment is about.

There are many other ways to have ethical beliefs:

  • Some judgments/beliefs are grounded in testimony. E.g. if my friend tells me it's raining outside. I believe it even though I didn't experience it.
  • Other judgments/beliefs are grounded in other things, such as empirical evidence.

Our experiences only inform our judgments, for better or worse.

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At its simplest, ethics is a system of moral principles. They affect how people make decisions and lead their lives.

Ethics is concerned with what is good for individuals and society and is also described as moral philosophy.

The term is derived from the Greek word ethos which can mean custom, habit, character or disposition.

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Ethics - Introduction to ethics: Ethics: a general introduction

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Biases...

... specifically cognitive biases, are your unchecked tendencies to make decisions or take actions in an irrational way. 

Instead of making decisions based on facts and data, you are more prone to base your decisions on unconscious errors that lead to a distorted judgment of the world. These biases ultimately affect your relationships, work, and worldview.

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7 Overlooked Biases That Creep Into Your Work (And Undermine Its Success)

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Positive Economics

Positive Economics is a stream of economics that focuses on the description, quantification, and explanation of the developments in economics, the expectations, and the associated phenomena. It heavily relies on objective data analysis, relevant facts, and associated figures.

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Positive Economics

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