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Scientific objectivity

The words ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ are philosophical terms heavily burdened with a heritage of contradictory usages and of inconclusive and interminable discussions.

My use of the terms ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ is not unlike Kant’s. He uses the word ‘objective’ to indicate that scien­tific knowledge should be justifiable, independently of anybody’s whim: a justification is ‘objective’ if in principle it can be tested and understood by anybody. ‘If something is valid’, he writes, ‘for anybody in possession of his reason, then its grounds are objective and sufficient.’

Now I hold that scientific theories are never fully justifiable or verifiable, but that they are nevertheless testable. I shall therefore say that the objectivity of scientific statements lies in the fact that they can be inter-subjectively tested. [22]

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