With a name like Objectivism, you knew we had to talk about objectivity eventually.

First, we need to hear about a common mistake. People often view objectivity as meaning someone who doesn't have a stake in the matter. Someone who doesn't have a reason to favor one side position or another. In other words, someone who is unbiased.

The reason behind this view is that people consider emotions to be a distorting influence on one's reasoning ability. If you want a particular result, the emotions will cloud your judgment. This is not the Objectivist position on emotions, as you might have guessed. Although you may feel emotions, it's not that hard to think things through. You only start running into problems if you try to use your emotions as cognitive tools. In other words, if you let your emotions decide for you.

Instead of this unbiased view of objectivity, we use a very different meaning. Objectivity is reality-oriented. It means holding reality as the standard of evaluation, and reason as your method of analysis. So we seek the truth, and we know it's available to us even if we have an emotional stake in the matter. We may need to work a little harder to stay objective, but there's nothing preventing it.

This reality-orientation is what gives Objectivism its name. I've already mentioned that a major theme of Objectivist epistemology is connecting knowledge to reality. This is done explicitly through objectivity. So when we try to figure out whether something is true, we look to reality, not just with whether it fits in with the rest of our ideas. The idea in science to actually observe reality in order to test theories is an example of objectivity.

I've already discussed the idea of standards of evaluation. These are geared at bring objectivity to a discussion. They set up a method of comparison, and then you can look to reality to determine the facts. It redirects focus to reality.

There's not much to say about objectivity, but it's of enormous importance in practice.

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