What is Truth?

All truth is subjective, there is no objective truth.

The Idea that All Truth is Subjective; That there is No Objective Truth:

Is Truth Objective or Subjective? Is All Truth Subjective? Is There Objective Truth?

The idea that all truth is subjective, that there is no objective truth, is a myth. Everything either has an absolute truth value (even if we can’t know it) or is an opinion or belief.[1][2][3]

This doesn’t mean we can know every truth, this doesn’t mean that what is true for the observer isn’t unique to the observer. It just means that ultimately, underling that, “that which is the case, is the case, independent of our ability to confirm it” and “statements phrased correctly have an absolute truth value.”

To get this argument you need to understand our terms, so let’s define them:

  • Objectivity: That which is confirmable as true. The state or quality of being true even outside of a subject’s individual biases, perspectives, interpretations, feelings, imaginings, and/or opinions. True for everyone (or confirmable as true, despite the subjectivity, opinion, and belief of some); truth based on empirical evidence or formal logic. Ex. “Water is wet” or “1+1=2.” This type of truth is necessarily and certainly true. It has an absolute truth-value independent of subjectivity.
  • Subjectivity: That which we perceive. Knowledge-based on individual biases, perspectives, interpretations, feelings, imaginings, and/or opinions. True for a specific individual; truth based on perspective. Ex. “The water feels cold to me.” This is a type of truth that is subjective but has an absolute truth value to the observer that relates back to their perception of absolute truth.
  • Truth: Something that is the case, without a doubt. Can be either objectively true for everyone, or subjectively true for us, depending on context. When no context is given, it means that which is “objectively true.”

NOTES: Objectivity is a subject of philosophy and thus there is room to debate its meaning in different contexts. In a general sense, a proposition (a statement) is generally considered objectively true (to have objective truth) when its truth conditions are met without bias caused by feelings, ideas, opinions, etc. While some might claim only empirical truth is objective, generally speaking, we can say any claim, be it purely rational, empirical, or a mix of both ultimately has an absolute truth value. “Water is wet” (empirical), 1+1=2 (rational), and “gravity is affecting the man in the chair” (mix).

TIP: Context matters. If I say “1+1=2” you could pick that apart by being clever (just like you could pick apart any claim), and come up with instances where “1+1 does not equal 2 under specific conditions.” For this reason it helps to speak in descriptive terms to better state the claim we are making. For example, when we say “1+1=2” we mean “in terms of standard mathematics, 1+1=2; meaning if I have one unit and then consider another together I’m considering two units total.” It isn’t necessary to say that every time, but it is a good fall back if needed in debate. That said, phrasing what we mean and dealing with semantics is a slightly different subject than the subject of objective vs. subjective truth. With that said, we could condense this idea to the following phrase all, “statements phrased correctly have an absolute truth value.”

FACT: Not everything that is true can be proven (just ask Gödel). That is just the nature of the universe we live in. Thus, there is a lot of room for subjectivity, opinion, debate, philosophy, hypothesis, theory, etc. There is a lot we don’t know for sure, which is “why philosophy natural and moral.”

Why The Idea That all Truth is Subjective is Absurd

So the question here is, “since all human knowledge is based on perception and rationalization, then isn’t all truth therefore subjective?”

The simple answer to the question is, “no…” Consider, if all truth was subjective, the none of our technology would work (as much of it is dependent on constant truth values.”)

If we both look at a red ball, and you think it is red, and I think it is blue, then subjectively for me it is blue, and subjectively for you it is red, but objectively… it is red. There is no grey area here.

The fact is, all statements phrased correctly have an absolute truth value, or have a degree of truth that can be agreed on objectively (our whole website is based on this premise).

If we say, “aliens exist,” we can’t say whether it is true or not (it has an objective truth value that we don’t know for sure). However, if we say “it is likely given X data that the existence of aliens is highly likely,” that statement is easier to objectively rate true or false. The topic didn’t change, but the structure of our statement did.

Of course, with that said, some fields lend themselves to truth more than others (like mathematics and physics), and some field lend themselves to subjectivity (like metaphysics and speculation on aliens).

With that said, even metaphysics tends to ask questions that do ultimately have a truth value, the only caveat there is that we often can’t know it for sure.

For another example of objectivity, 1+1=2 is an objective truth, and so is is E2=(pc)2+(mc2)2  (a more complete version of E=mc2) that can be used when discussing mass energy conservation. Sure we can skeptically ask, “well can we imagine a case where 1+1 does not equal 2?” This however does not change the fundamentals, one way to respond to that is to clarify the statement. So we could say, “in general in mathematics, 1+1=2.”

The laws of physics, the laws of mathematics, the laws of all many formal rule-sets empirical and rational. These things are object realities, and we can be pretty darn certain of it because they always work, every time, without fail when put to the test.

If you and I both watch the dog eat the steak, if we have the dog on camera eating the steak, if we test the crime science and find his DNA on the steak, if we watch for it in the yard the next day, we look, we see, we confirm, etc, etc we can conclude that it is objectively true that the dog ate the steak.

Did aliens come down to earth and plant this scene here? Well, let’s say they did. In that case, that is what is true and our senses were fooling us. Either the dog ate the steak or didn’t, whichever is true is true. Only one thing happened, there is only one truth, and that one truth is objectively true.

This is to say, truth exists as an absolute, it is only our ability to prove it with certainty that is tricky. Meanwhile, those who deny object truths (while free to do so), are often demonstrably wrong (if not with certainty, then with such a high degree on probability that the “subjectivity” argument becomes rather fringe and absurd).

In other words, catchy phrases like “all truth is subjective” or “there is no objective truth” are just that, catchy phrases with no meaning. They are… objectively false. Knowing something is objectively false is itself, an objective truth.

Above I used an Einstein quote that speaks to relativity to show that there was objective truth. This quote has a dual meaning, it also tells us about relativity and subjectivity. If we change our frame of reference, we can see object truths from a different perspective, this can change our perception, but not the constant truth values behind our perception.

If you and a twin are speeding away from each other in rockets, lots of zany stuff happens (in terms of perception and physics), but what is happening is constant and governed by the laws of physics. There is subjectiveness in the perception, but not in the physics (there is only one objective truth).

Simply, all truth is objective, not subjective. However, how we view truth can be subjective, and our opinions, perceptions of feelings, and beliefs are subjective. A subject truth is what is true for us, an objective truth is what is actually true.

TIP: Many philosophers accept the idea of “a priori” truths, that is, those are truths that are true independently of experience, including mathematical truths and scientific truths. Now, people like to break out the old “all truths are subjective” card when we get to theology and moral philosophy, that is fine… but even there, at the end of the day, there is only one truth (the rest is just belief and opinion).[4]

Elon 2015 Spring Convocation: Neil deGrasse Tyson on objective and subjective truth.

FACT: In a related note, the saying “you can’t prove a negative” isn’t accurate either. Proving negatives is a foundational aspect of logic. Learn more about proving negatives.


The metaphysical concept that all truth is subjective is fun to muse on, with it we can be skeptics and question what we know. With that said, we build bridges and machines all the time. If there was no objective truth, our technologies wouldn’t work. Figuring out what is true isn’t always easy, but that is what it is, truth often exists without our ability to determine it with certainty (but that is a complexity, not a rebuttal to this longstanding debate).


  1. Objective Truth
  2. There is no such thing as objective truth. Just look at Sidney Crosby’s concussion.
  3. Objectivity
  4. Is all truth subjective?…

"There is No Such Thing as Objective Truth" is tagged with: Bias, Epistemology, Perception, Truth

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Yomammaa on

If a person claims that there are no objective truths than in fact they are believing in an objective truth by making said statement, ergo while they argue that objective truth does not exist they must first do so by using objective truth, hence they contradict themselves by illustrating one must first believe in an objective truth.

Thomas DeMichele on

A very good point.

Keziah ha'Kodeshi on

Just like saying “the world is flat.” The Objective Truth is

Visign3d on
Supports this as a Fact.

The problem is whit 1+1 eqatation that its tru only in special cases. For exaplme if u take a spermium cell adds to it a gamete u get not two but one cell. So your equatation dont works everywhere – only in mathematic conceptions.

Thomas DeMichele on

That is objectively true. Truths should be stayed like this, “in terms of mathematics, 1+1=2.” Context matters of course.

Visign3d on

But how we can say somthing is objective that is subject of a context?

Thomas DeMichele on

I think we can say simply: something being objectively true means being objectively true within the context of that which we are speaking.

If we want to go tortoise and Achilles (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What_the_Tortoise_Said_to_Achilles) and ask “just because I think, does this really prove I am?” Then yes, we can argue the line of thought that says things like “we don’t know everything for sure, so everything might be subjective at its core, so all objective knowledge underlying that might be built upon a foundation of uncertainty, and thus nothing is objective.” <— something like that

If we want however to discuss practical knowledge and we want our words to be useful, we really have to speak in context and consider that which is constantly true in practice. When we program a computer, we need strict rules, 1+1 must equal 2 under normal circumstances, that must be objectively true. What is true within that context isn't subjective.

So on a metaphysical level of deep questions about the nature of reality, we can argue for all truth being subjective on some level. I am all for that.

I frankly also found your questioning interesting.

But I would argue that we none-the-less live in a world where all truth is ultimately objective, and subjectivity comes only from things like our sentiments, opinions, impressions, lack of understanding, and inability to phrase things properly.

Even things that exist in probability and uncertainty are governed by objectively true rules (like in particle physics).

For your example, for example, the problem isn't with the concept of 1+1 being true or untrue, it was with how we were phrasing it and applying it. For math, we need to speak in terms of math. For cytology, we need to speak in terms of cytology. What is true is. While, to the degree we fail at expressing it, that is on us.

Those are though, my opinions on a matter that ultimately has an objective truth. I might not be stating it correctly, but outside of me, you, and Plato's ability to say it, none-the-less, at the core, there is an objective truth to the discussion of truth and objectivity.

Consider this statement:
To the best of our knowledge, the physical universe is not filled with visible pink Unicorns named Henry. That is objectively true. It may not be useful truth, but it is an example of objective truth. Or at least, that is a very strong theory since there has never been any evidence to disprove it, and thus we can consider it objectively true to the best of our knowledge. Even if we are wrong, then it was, at its core, simply objectively false. Still objective.

macsnafu on

“I think we can say simply: something being objectively true means being objectively true within the context of that which we are speaking.”

I have to agree with this. Context is very important when talking about truth (or Truth). A certain type of absolutism applied to everything is usually absurd and meaningless, and it is this absurdity that seems to lead many to subjectivity concerning truth.

joseph on

1 + 1 = 2 is only valid using base 10 mathematics. In binary code (base 2) this is incorrect.

Ergo, subjective and based upon assumptions.

Thomas DeMichele on

My rebuttal is that “1+1=2 using base 10 mathematics” is an objective truth. Most if not all truth is objective in general if framed correctly, it is only subjective from alternative frames. Which frame do we use, I guess we could argue that is subjective, but if we are saying 1+1=2, I would suggest we are implying a base 10 frame and we are being tricky if we choose another frame like base 2.

macsnafu on
Supports this as a Fact.

In a related idea, I like to say that there is an objective reality, however subjectively and variably we may perceive and understand that reality.

Vernon McVety Jr. on
Doesn't beleive this myth.

This is a little irrelevant but worth mentioning. There is another term for those truths regarded as absolute. And that is “Eternal Principles.” I WOULD LIKE TO SEE SOMETHING POSTED CONCERNING THE RELATIVITY OF TRUTH.

Thomas DeMichele on
Vernon McVety Jr. on
Doesn't beleive this myth.

Yes. My oversight. However, I left out the word “else” in that reply, i.e. something else posted on the relativity of truth. I type too fast at times without self correcting. To be specific something poetic perhaps involving the mystical traditions other than philosophical prose. The creative imaginative areas here are very limited and obscure. MC Escher did a magnificent illustration for the Relativity of perception in “Relativity.” BTW I think the adage “Man is the measure of all things” by Protagoras can be seen as a true and great principle. Thanks again.

Petter on

The statement “everything is relative” and the statement “there is no such thing as objective truth” are synonymous.

The argumentation in this article is absolutely correct EXCEPT for the fundamental mistake of ignoring the subjective nature of all contexts. Every fact depends on other facts for their existence.

For example, the statement 1 + 1 = 2 in standard mathematics is only true if you first presume standard mathematics to be true. But mathematics is only true if you divide reality into pieces. If you instead see reality as homogenous, mathematics has no meaning anymore.

Returning to the statement “everything is relative”. Everything is interlinked which is a good argument for seeing reality as homogenous. The only place where divisions exist is in your interpretation of reality.

Nothing can be expressed that is not subjective. Reality can only (theoretically?) be experienced in “the now” when interpretation (division) does not take place

Thomas DeMichele on

Interesting take on things. I like that line of thinking. If there is no division between things, then everything is relative only to itself. Hmmm. Hello rabbit hole.

I guess the point of the above article would be however, “metaphysics aside, for practical purposes… [insert argument]”

River Heralitus on

I agree that your statement;

“A subjective truth is what is true for us, an objective truth is what is actually true.”

is true but that it is a trivial conclusion.

Humans are representational (intentional) beings and as such cannot access whether anything is objectively true or not (even the fact that there is an objective reality)

There may well be a Universe of objective truths
(that is what I actually really believe)
but the only objective truth that I really KNOW is that I am conscious

Everything else is inference

Thomas DeMichele on

That of course is the problem. 🙂

SenseExistentialism on

What if subjective and objective are incomplete ways of looking at things?

Thomas DeMichele on

That is a cool thought. Maybe it is the case.

Cryo on

TThe whole article is dead wrong on so many issues, I don’t know where to even begin…

“Everything either has an absolute truth value (even if we can’t know it) or is an opinion or belief.”
Truth is an abstract quality, assigned to statements within the framework of epistemic system, not a thing that exists. Since there’s no such thing as “objective truth evaluation process” and there are many different epistemic systems, all truth assignments are subjective and “objective truth” is effectively an oxymoron. External reality is objective and truth is subjective.

“Truth: Something that is the case, without a doubt. Can be either objectively true for everyone, or subjectively true for us, depending on context…”
The only way a statement can be objectively true, is if there exists an objective epistemology, a set of objective rules for how to assign truth to propositions. And since all epistemologies are subjective, there can’t be statements, that must be necessarily evaluated as “objectively true.”

“Water is wet” (empirical)”
This statement is true, because you’ve deisided to call the substance “water” and assign the property of “wetness” to it, based on your subjective sensory perception. Since everybody is free to use any language definitions, any epistemology and any vocabulary they like, the truth of the propositon “water is wet” can range from true to false or even incoherent. In other words, it is true only for people who speak your language and share your experiences.

The same thing here. It is only true by convention, within the context of made-up arbitrary axiomatic rules of arithmetic. There’s nothing objective about it, unless people agree to follow these arbitrary rules.

“gravity is affecting the man in the chair”
What kind of a cognitive barier would prevent me from assigning “false” value to this claim? -Maybe I am a solipsist and I chose to believe, that all synthetic (mixed) propositions are false just for the fun of it.

Hence, none of the examples represent any kind of objective truth. They are only true within the context of the epistemology the author of the article is using.

“Consider, if all truth was subjective, the none of our technology would work (as much of it is dependent on constant truth values.”)”
Non sequitur. The subjectivity of truth doesn’t imply that all epistemologies are equally useless.

“If we both look at a red ball, and you think it is red, and I think it is blue, then subjectively for me it is blue, and subjectively for you it is red, but objectively… it is red.”
Facepalm. If two people see a ball and both of them percieve it to be different color, how can you know, that it is objectively red to begin with?

“The fact is, all statements phrased correctly have an absolute truth value, or have a degree of truth that can be agreed on objectively”
Agreed on objectively… do you hear yourself? Consensus only implies popular opinion, at no point this opinion becomes objective. All opinions are, by definition, subjective.

_”This is to say, truth exists as an absolute, it is only our ability to prove it with certainty that is tricky. “_
Truth doesn’t exist period, since it’s an abstract concept. Reality does. Looks like you’re defending platonic realism, which is 2000 years out of date. Concepts don’t exist objectively, they’re defined into existence by minds.

Thomas DeMichele on

Can’t say you don’t provide compelling arguments. Also can’t say I don’t appreciate them, I do.

I think we both generally agree on a core “truth”/”reality” (expressed in the fallible language form) here.

That is, what you call “reality” and I called “truth” (in both cases, that which is the case) is the case. Or, in other words, “that which is reality, is reality, despite our ability to perceive it, know it for sure, or speak of it accurately.”

That is the core of my argument, which I do think is correct, even to the extent I may have to toss out some of the specific words and examples I’m trying to use to explain it.

Maybe it isn’t that core we are disagreeing on, but instead you are then taking issue with the idea that I am extending this concept to say “therefore, extending from the reality that there is an objective reality, there are also objective truths.?

To speak to that, I actually don’t disagree with the core of what you say in terms of things like “consensus only implies popular opinion,” although I would argue that popular opinion could by happenstance be correct in terms of reality and therefore be objectively true.

Likewise, I don’t disagree that 1+1=2 only within certain rule sets, although within that rule set, it does become objectively true within that rule set.

Likewise, with water, we call a state wetness and from within that frame water is wet. However, we could call it anything the the reality of the properties of water and its effects would be the same. The reality is objective, the way we speak about it is only true within a framework.

I’ll think over how I presented the article and your comments and see if I can’t better describe what I mean. And who knows, maybe I will even have to concede that “truth” is a concept that only exists in a subject realm and I’ll have to use the term “reality” instead? Not going to toss out that idea without careful thought.

Ultimately though, I wonder to what degree we truly disagree or that I would change my mind?

Consider this:

I would say that if in reality the ball is on the table (accepting the object we call a ball is on the object we call a table), then it is true that the ball is on the table, and anyone who says, “the ball is on the table” is speaking objective truth, and anyone who claims, “the ball is not on the table” is making an objectively false statement. I would also say that if a person does not see the ball, and thus says, “from what I can tell the ball is not on the table,” then it is objectively true that this is their perception of reality.

Reality is what it is (that which is the case, is the case as I say), the rest is an aside or needs to be discussed within its frame. The truth is the ball is on the table because the reality is the ball is on the table. However, one must perceive and conceptualize the situation and then one may discuss the situation. Each level I would say has objective truths, but they are all dependent on reality and need to be discussed within their frame.

In other words, while I would assert that the language part and the conception part are of a lesser degree than reality, I would argue there is still objective truth within frames and rule-sets related to language and conception.

That said, to be clear, I don’t believe that there are concepts floating around in a void casting shadows on the world or anything magical like that and I do fully get the ways in which subjectivity is invited in when we start talking about perception and the expression of perception and reality using language 🙂

Anyway, thanks again for your counterarguments. I’ll think them over and I’m sure other people will find them helpful.

otto f on
Supports this as a Fact.

Oh good — it isn’t just me who sees the original article
as something pulled out of thin air

every observation eventually is subjective –
without knowing/observing subjects
we know nothing

‘objective’ is just a term for public events
that we observe subjectively,
but we say it is ‘objective’ when we compare, agree about and confirm
each other’s observations

Otto Forde on
Supports this as a Fact.

Operationalize what you mean by ‘objective truth’ and then we might
have common ground for a real discussion.

And then you will realize you have put out a simplistic statement
pretending to be truth.

everything eventually is subjective –
without knowing/observing subjects
we know nothing

‘objective’ is just a term for public
events that we observe subjectively,
but agree about and confirm
each other’s observations