Philosophy Colloquium: Richard Healey
Title: Scientific objectivity and its limits
Recent arguments show that if quantum theory is applicable to every physical system then measurements of the sort we take to confirm this theory could not always have objective physical outcomes.
Rather than conclude that quantum theory is not universally applicable, I take these arguments to motivate a thorough examination of the notion of objectivity in science and of the related notions of objective truth and objective fact. What emerges is a distinction between transcendent and immanent objectivity. I will argue that to accept the universal applicability of quantum theory is to acknowledge that it is not only statements that report the outcome of a quantum measurement that are immanently but not transcendently objective. Fortunately, this is the only kind of objectivity we need, as scientists or people.