One of the recurring themes on this blog is moral subjectivism vs moral objectivism. Subjectivists argue that morals are fundamentally subjective in nature – akin to personal preferences, although very strongly felt. Let us agree for the sake of argument that they are not the same as simple preferences like flavors or fashion or colors and exclude that comparison from the conversation.
All perceptions of any kind are acquired and processed subjectively. That’s not the question; the question is whether or not it is better, more logical, or even necessary to think and act as if what one is referring to is objective in nature. Even though we all perceive what we call the “outside” world subjectively, I’m sure we’d all agree that it is necessary to think and act as if there is an actual, outside world – even if one is a solipsist. If you do not think and act as if it exists, you are in for a world of hurt.
A couple of other threads here refer to the current trend in some academic circles to consider “engineering rigor”, logic, gender and math part of the so-called “white, heterosexual, patriarchical oppression”; in other words, that such things are also subjective in nature and are largely produced by cultural bias. Link 1. Link 2.
If even the existence of the exterior world can be doubted on the grounds of subjectvism, certainly logic and math, which exist – as far as we can tell – solely in the mind, must be “subjective” in nature. Unless a subjectivist wishes to argue that thoughts can be anything other than subjective in nature, how exactly would they argue that math and logic objectively exist, or are objectively binding for everyone? Why should they be?
I don’t see how that argument can be made. If such abstract models are necessarily subjective in nature, then it follows that “engineering rigor,” which relies on math and logic, is one particular subjective perspective that has been forced on everyone via various building codes and laws. This argument is precisely the same as the argument for moral subjectivism; because something cannot be seen or measured in the exterior world and appears to exist solely in the heart or mind of the observer (which is true of math, logic and morality), then it must be subjective in nature, and must be accepted as such and treated as such.
Would a moral subjectivist be willing to live their life in a society where math and logic are considered subjective? Would they be willing to live in buildings where all features of the construction were left up to the builder’s subjective view of math, logic and engineering rigor? Where people were free to dismantle, change and add on to the structure based on their own subjective views? Exactly how long does one think a building would last if everyone got to change whatever part of it they wanted according to their subjective views? What if someone didn’t like the foundation and just started dismantling it and replacing it with something they subjectively think is better? Would a subjectivist get on a plane or a boat built by engineering subjectivists, or while enroute was being altered by engineering subjectivists?
And yet, the foundation and structure that built and maintains our entire society, informs the social construct and serves as the basis of law, is something moral subjectivists say will survive, thrive and even get better if we embrace moral subjectivism. Would moral subjectivists agree to math and logic subjectivism? To engineering subjectivism? If not, why not? Are they claiming math and logic are objective commodities and universally binding, even though they only exist in the world of mind and are – apparently – capable of being dismissed (by a growing segment) as subjective cultural biases?