The third conception of objectivity which we discuss at length is the idea of absence of personal bias.
After discussing three case studies about objectivity in scientific practice (from economics, social science and medicine) as well as a radical alternative to the traditional conceptions of objectivity, instrumentalism, we draw some conclusions about what aspects of objectivity remain defensible and desirable in the light of the difficulties we have discussed.
The idea of this first conception of objectivity is that scientific claims are objective in so far as they faithfully describe facts about the world.
The philosophical rationale underlying this conception of objectivity is the view that there are facts “out there” in the world and that it is the task of a scientist to discover, to analyze and to systematize them.
Scientific objectivity is a characteristic of scientific claims, methods and results.
It expresses the idea that the claims, methods and results of science are not, or should not be influenced by particular perspectives, value commitments, community bias or personal interests, to name a few relevant factors.The admiration of science among the general public and the authority science enjoys in public life stems to a large extent from the view that science is objective or at least more objective than other modes of inquiry.Understanding scientific objectivity is therefore central to understanding the nature of science and the role it plays in society.While the experiences vary, there seems to be something that remains constant.The appearance of a tree will change as one approaches it but, at least possibly, the tree itself doesn't.According to the first understanding, science is objective in that, or to the extent that, its products—theories, laws, experimental results and observations—constitute accurate representations of the external world.The products of science are not tainted by human desires, goals, capabilities or experience.Objectivity is often considered as an ideal for scientific inquiry, as a good reason for valuing scientific knowledge, and as the basis of the authority of science in society.Many central debates in the philosophy of science have, in one way or another, to do with objectivity: confirmation and the problem of induction; theory choice and scientific change; realism; scientific explanation; experimentation; measurement and quantification; evidence and the foundations of statistics; evidence-based science; feminism and values in science.In line with the idea that the epistemic authority of science relies primarily on the objectivity of scientific reasoning, we focus on the role of objectivity in scientific experimentation, inference and theory choice. To call a thing objective implies that it has a certain importance to us and that we approve of it. Claims, methods and results can be more or less objective, and, other things being equal, the more objective, the better.Using the term “objective” to describe something often carries a special rhetorical force with it.