HomeADDU-SAS Graduate Research Journalvol. 7 no. 1 (2010)

Objectivity as a Regulative Ideal: A Philosophical Treatise

Raymundo R. Pavo

Discipline: Philosophy, Social Science



When one speaks of objectivity, the usual understanding of it includes a reliable kind and degree of certainty, such that when facts are engendered and rendered, the proposed truth has to reach a stable sense of agreeability and soundness. Agreeability, in this regard, refers to the logical exemplification of noted and accepted rules and methods of research. Soundness, on the other hand, accounts for the logical correlation between insights and the gathered data.


Since the notions of certainty, agreeability and soundness can be suspect of arbitrary decisions, the question arises if it really is possible to reach certainty or objectivity in the social sciences. Given that the object of investigation in social science covers the ever changing domain of world and human affairs, one can surmise that socially construed and proposed facts are permeated by personal value-judgements. This being the case, should there be any further need to substantially worry that facts as proposed by social scientists are not fix and certain?


This paper holds that the presence of individual leanings of the researcher does not necessarily render the findings he proposes to be less or not at all objective since as a concept, objectivity has over time undergone transitions in meaning. This historical phenomenon is a reminder that a change of perspective on what it means to be certain or objective has to be expected. This historically conditioned notion of objectivity, however, is not the focus of this paper. Rather, this treatise is an attempt to demonstrate that objectivity can be configured in yet another way; that is, to view it in the light of it being a regulative ideal - a paradoxically indefinite, archetypal yet pragmatic notion of certainty. But, the question does remain on how objectivity as a regulative ideal in the social sciences can condition the historical notion of being objective.