Two bad arguments for the subjectivity of judgements

To make the discussion above a little more specific, we can turn to two arguments designed to explain why a class of judgements is (necessarily) subjective in sense 1 above.2 94 Aesthetic sports, publicity and judgement calls The argument from personal character This kind of argument might be summarized as follows: ‘My judgements depend on my impressions, coming through my senses: therefore they are subjective.’ Our reply should make two points.

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First, if sound, this argument would make all judgements (even those by scientists) subjective, contrary to our ground rule (see p. 93). Second, the argument is not sound, since it confuses what is personal with what is idiosyncratic. To see this point, consider colour-blindness: differences here are regular and recognizable, but against a background of systematic perception by the rest of us! The judgements of a colour-blind person can be identified, and contrasted with colour judgements uncluttered by colour-blindness.

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So that one cannot with justice plead that the traffic light was not red because it did not look red to me. Here, it is not true that any view is equally good. What moral should we draw from this bad argument? It invites us to recognize a person’s role in making judgements: it correctly gives weight to a person – and hence to what he or she has learned or can discriminate.

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With this thought in place, we can turn to the next. The argument from diversity The contention here is that the persistence of disagreement shows judgements in an area to be subjective. If it were not subjective, agreement would be reached (eventually): there is ‘one right answer’, if only we knew it. Our response begins by recording that like must be compared with like (Bambrough 1979: 18): for there may be much less diversity in the world than is sometimes imagined – or urged by writers in philosophy.

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