Reply To: Is there no right/wrong? Is it only perception?


Hello. New member here. As an Objectivist, I think that Ayn Rand gave a better answer than JohnD’s Objective/Subjective dichotomy, and that is the Objective/Subjective/Intrinsic TRIchotomy.

What JohnD calls Objective, something being good or bad in and of itself, independednt of human perception, Ayn Rand calls Intrinsic. Her definition of Objective in the context of ethics means that something is good because of its actual identity, its real world qualities that are independent of our perception, in relation to how we percieve those qualities serve human needs and goals, in particular promoting human life.

I think it was Professor David Kelley who used the metaphor of a collision between two cars, say a Ford representing the object’s real qualities, and a Chevy representing our perception of how it serves human purposes. So ask yourself, is the collision within the Ford or the Chevy? Without one or the other, the collision would not have happened. Both are needed.

In a real-world example, lets take the value of an antibiotic like penecillin. Penicillin is of great value to us (lets omit factors like antibiotic resistence, please) because something about it’s chemical structure makes it a poison to many kinds of bacteria, but harmless to humans, so it is an excellent cure for bacterial infections. We most definitely percieve a cure for disease as a great value. But penecillin would definitely not have that value if it didn’t in fact have that chemical structure that makes it a poison to bacteria.

And to further make the point, before even the germ theory of disease and the discovery of penicillin as a cure, it was simply an unpleasant mold found on certain kinds of fruit. Theoretically, it was of great potential value, but since we didn’t even know the theory, it was of no value.