Sunday, January 29, 2012

Reality is Objective

Reality is objective. What's true is true for everyone, regardless of what people believe.

You'd think this would be obvious. And yet, it comes up. Particularly in debates about the supernatural. People will say things like "Well, maybe ghosts don't exist for you, but they do exist for me." I've never seen anyone apply this sort of reasoning when doing something mundane, like say, crossing the street. No one ever says "That bus might exist for you, but it doesn't exist for me." People know there either is a bus there, or there isn't, regardless of what they believe, and if they want to not get hit by it, they ought to have beliefs which match objective reality.

I think the idea that reality is different to different people might come from the thought that our senses are infallible. If I see something, that means it's there. If I see something, and someone else sees something different, well our realities must be different. But our senses aren't infallible, and we frequently see or hear things that aren't there, or fail to see or hear things that are.

It seems to me much easier to explain occasional discrepancies in our perceptions in an objective reality than to explain the ubiquitous consistency of our perceptions. How often do people disagree about whether it's day or night, whether they're inside or outside, whether they're sitting or standing, whether there's a bus in the road or not? If reality were subjective, why would such consistency be so common?

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