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Objective opinion?

  1. Mar 16, 2008 #1
    Is "objective opinion" an oxymoron? I've always thought of opinions as being subjective. Thoughts?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 17, 2008 #2
    I don't think it's the opinion that can be either objective or subjective, but these terms instead describe the type of subject matter that is discussed.

    Objective issues are issues where the reality is whatever it is, regardless of whether we know about it, or whether we think about it. For example, I may think that no train is coming, so I walk across the railroad tracks, but then a train runs me over -- that means it was the objective truth that the train was coming, despite my incorrect belief to the contrary.

    Subjective issues are issues where there is no external truth that is independent of the mind; for example, the music of the Beatles sounds better than the music of the Rolling Stones.
  4. Mar 17, 2008 #3
    I agree, this was what I've always thought an opinion was. But people use it in many other ways, and in a discussion, it gets pretty annoying. "Ice cream is good" is what I would consider an opinion because it's subjective. "I am fifty meters tall" is fact because it's objective, even though the fact could be true or false.

    BUT, people have used the word, "opinion", to describe what they think is true about objective reality. For example, "it's my opinion that aliens exist" is something that I've heard someone say. It seems like the word, "opinion", is used as though to mean from connotation, "you cannot question my claim", referring to the definition of opinion as being subjective, but at the same time making an objective claim about aliens.

    Does "opinion" have a second meaning that is synonymous with belief? If that is so, then it would be rather confusing. People use the word "opinion" to describe their beliefs in objective reality.
  5. Mar 17, 2008 #4
    I would consider it bad grammar to say, "It's my opinion that aliens exist", because, as you point out, it's a factual matter. However, I would think it sounds right to describe the evaluation process: "It's my opinion that the case for the existence of aliens is persuasive." The latter is closer to describing one's own state of mind -- there is something in my mind that causes me to have a predisposition toward making the assertion that aliens exist.
  6. Mar 17, 2008 #5
    Yes, I think so. An opinion is something one forms based on their knowledge, judgement, and personal experiences. You cant have an opinion if you ignore these things. Othewise it would be a fact, not an opinion.

    Im of the thought that nothing is absolute, nor objective.
  7. Mar 17, 2008 #6
    I have heard some people say, "In my objective opinion....", but that appears to be a careless figure of speech. I put it in the same category as the use of "literally" to mean "figuratively" ("The land literally flowed with milk and honey...." -- Louisa May Alcott, in Little Women (source). Similarly, the expression "I could care less." I try to speak more precisely.
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