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Author Jonathan Noyes
Published on 04/13/2020
Philosophy

Two Kinds of Truth

Jonathan discusses the difference between subjective and objective truth using two helpful analogies.


Transcript

Now when I say “subjective truth,” I want you to think about something. I want you to think about ice cream. Right now, if you’re sitting with a bunch of other people, right now, I want you to yell out, what’s your favorite kind of ice cream? What is it? Yell it out. Yeah, so some of you guys are probably chocolate and vanilla folks, right? The plain Janes, you know. Some of you like the real funky stuff, Chunky Monkey. One of my daughters loves cotton candy ice cream, right? We all know, we all know the best, the absolute best flavor of ice cream is mint chip. Mint chip is the best ice cream out there. Whenever there’s a bowl of mint chip in my view, I have to have it because it’s the best. Well, that’s my opinion, right? It’s the best. Who said that mint chip is the best? I’m sure somebody did. Somebody agrees with me that it’s the best.

But I have a question for you. Would it make sense in this situation if I said that I like—mint chip ice cream, so this is a statement that I’m going to make—mint chip ice cream is my favorite ice cream. That’s a true statement. It’s true. Would it make sense to say that I’m wrong about that? Would it make sense for you to argue, you say, “No, Jon, mint chip can’t possibly be your favorite.” Well, no. That doesn’t make any sense to say I’m wrong about that. Why? Because when it comes to flavors of ice cream, you can choose what you like. You have that opportunity. That option’s available to you. It’s a personal preference because it’s subjective, having to do with you, the subject. It’s not necessarily a statement about something out here. It’s a statement about what’s in here.

So it’s a subjective truth claim. It’s true, but in a subjective sense. This kind of claim is known as subjective truth. Like I said, it’s about the subject, you. Or in this case, me, with mint chip. It’s about our personal preference. It’s true, but it’s subjectively true. Now, that’s ice cream, so when you think of subjective truth for the rest of this conversation, think of ice cream. Whatever flavor you chose is fine.

Now, let’s think of objective truth. Now I have a question for you. If you had a condition known as diabetes, if you were a diabetic, your doctor, you went to him, and you said, “Doc, I think I got diabetes,” they run all the tests, and the tests all come back positive, you have diabetes, and the doctor says to you, “All right, Jon, I’m going to prescribe that you go home everyday and eat two pints of mint chip ice cream,” is that going to be good for you? Absolutely not. Because we all know if you have a condition known as diabetes, your doctor is going to prescribe insulin. Insulin.

So I want you to associate objective truth with insulin. And here’s why. Because there is something that is prescribed by a doctor that helps every single person on the planet who has diabetes, and it’s insulin. It involves getting a shot, and everyone hates shots. I hate shots, my kids hate shots. They hurt. But regardless of how we feel about the mode that we get the insulin, no matter if it hurts or not, we know that we have to take the insulin if we’re diabetic because it helps independent of how we feel about the insulin. We might not like it. It might not be our favorite thing like mint chip ice cream. But we know that it helps.

See, when it comes to medicine, you have got to choose what heals, not what you like. This kind of claim is known as objective truth. So this is an objective truth claim. Because it’s about the object itself. The truth claim is out here. Not in here.