Thursday, May 25, 2006

(Potentially relevant link)

People who say the above are wrong.

  • Orange is the best colour for your box of laundry detergent in order to maximise sales.
  • Orange is the best colour for emulating the Luna scheme.
  • Orange is the best colour for camouflaging yourself in a jungle.
  • Orange is the best colour.
The above are all predicates, and predicates are true, false, or nonsense, but never more than one of these. (In this case, probably true, true, false, and false or nonsense).

Now, many fools such as Foo will protest that orange is indeed his favourite colour and therefore the best colour. If I favour blue, though, Foo will contend that we're both right, but he's denying one of the fundamental principles of logic (and despite what silly people will claim, logic applies perfectly to every aspect of the world).

Now, if I say 'blue is my favourite colour' and Foo says 'Orange is my favourite colour', then we can both be right about those respective claims, because they're different claims. And perhaps if you claimed 'Orange is the best colour to show Foo when he asks to see the best colour', you'd be right because Foo is an idiot who doesn't yet buy my claim and no one wants an angry Foo yelling at her for showing the 'wrong' colour. But 'Orange is the best colour' isn't relativised to the person. It's stated in absolutes, just like 'Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system'. True. Not just True-for-Wesc, but True.

Due to our inability to distinguish between 'best' and favourite, we don't like that answer--and by 'we' I mean Foo. I like the answer. I wrote the bloody answer. People mostly do redefining of terms this with normatives like 'best', 'better', 'worse', etc. But why do they object to my labelling it false/nonsense on the grounds of best not applying to colours1? If I claim 'Jealousy is the heaviest emotion'--with 'heaviest' not being any silly metaphor, but something along the lines of 'having the most physical mass'--they'll not say 'Oh, you're right, because weight/mass doesn't apply to emotions2'. Instead they'll claim it's false/nonsense. The same response I give to the colour evaluation.

Opinions are about predicates and are right or wrong. Preferences are neither right nor wrong, predicates about preferences are. I've had to defend this claim countless times (including to Dr. Hettche, one of my philosophy professor).

1 I confess that 'best' may apply to colours, but if so, you probably determine the best by enumerating how much people like each one how much.

2 Anyone who wishes to butt in with a comment cashing out emotions in terms of chemicals and electronic impulses is welcome to do so only after they've come up with a better analogy for me to use.