Objectivity (science)

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Objectivity in science means that scientific measurement can be tested independent from the individual scientist (the subject) who proposes them.

To be properly considered objective, the results of measurement must be communicated from person-to-person, and then demonstrated for third parties, as an advance in understanding of the objective world. Such demonstrable knowledge would ordinarily confer demonstrable powers of prediction or technological construction.

Objectivity in measurement[change | change source]

To avoid the variety in subjective (equivocal) interpretation of quantifying terms such as "green", "hot", "large", "considerable", and "negligible", scientists strive, where possible, to eliminate human senses by use of standartized measuring tools (meter stick, stopwatch, thermometer, etc.) and mechanical/electronic measuring instruments (spectrometer, voltmeter, timer, oscilloscope, gravimeter, etc.) for performing the actual measuring process, eliminating much of the perceptive variability of individual observers. The results of measurements are expressed on a numerical scale of standard units - so that everybody else understands them the same way. Where data must need be used, the ideal is to use "hard", "objective" criteria for assigning the classifications (see definition), such that different classifiers would produce the same assignments.

Literature[change | change source]

  • Dawkins, Richard (2003): A Devil’s Chaplain: Selected Essays, Phoenix 2004
  • Kuhn, Thomas (1962): The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, University of Chicago Press, 3rd Ed., 1996
  • Porter, Theodore M. (1995): Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life, Princeton University Press, 1995
  • Restivo, Sal (1994): Science, Society, and Values: Toward a Sociology of Objectivity, Lehigh University Press, 1994.
  • Sokal, Alan & Bricmont, Jean (1997): Intellectual Impostures: Postmodern Philosophers’ Abuse of Science, Profile Books, 2003