"Our usage of the word ‘objectivity’ (French objectivite; German Objektivitdt) is hopelessly but revealingly confused. It refers at once to metaphysics, to methods, and to morals. We slide effortlessly from statements about the ‘objective truth’ of a scientific claim, to those about the ‘objective procedures’ that guarantee a finding, to those about the ‘objective manner’ that qualifies a researcher. Current usage allows us to apply the word as an approximate synonym for the empirical (or, more narrowly, the factual); for the scientific, in the sense of public, empirically reliable knowledge; for impartiality-unto-self-effacement and the cold-blooded restraint of the emotions; for the rational, in the sense of compelling assent from all rational minds, be they lodged in human, Martian, or angelic bodies; and for the ‘really real’, that is to say, objects in themselves independent of all minds except, perhaps, that of God. In its thick layering of oddly matched meanings - it is not self evident, for example, what the repression of the emotions has to do with the ontological bedrock - our concept of objectivity betrays signs of a complicated and contingent history, much as the layering of potsherds, marble ruins, and rusted cars would bespeak the same in an archeological site."
- Lorraine Daston (via textbookmaneuver)