Ayn Rand describes three theories of the good in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal:
There are, in essence, three schools of thought on the nature of the good: the intrinsic, the subjective, and the objective. The intrinsic theory holds that the good is inherent in certain things or actions as such, regardless of their context and consequences, regardless of any benefit or injury they may cause to the actors and subjects involved. It is a theory that divorces the concept of “good” from beneficiaries, and the concept of “value” from valuer and purpose—claiming that the good is good in, by, and of itself.
The subjectivist theory holds that the good bears no relation to the facts of reality, that it is the product of a man’s consciousness, created by his feelings, desires, “intuitions,” or whims, and that it is merely an “arbitrary postulate” or an “emotional commitment.”
The intrinsic theory holds that the good resides in some sort of reality, independent of man’s consciousness; the subjectivist theory holds that the good resides in man’s consciousness, independent of reality.
The objective theory holds that the good is neither an attribute of “things in themselves” nor of man’s emotional states, but an evaluation of the facts of reality by man’s consciousness according to a rational standard of value. (Rational, in this context, means: derived from the facts of reality and validated by a process of reason.) The objective theory holds that the good is an aspect of reality in relation to man—and that it must be discovered, not invented, by man. Fundamental to an objective theory of values is the question: Of value to whom and for what? An objective theory does not permit context-dropping or “concept-stealing”; it does not permit the separation of “value” from “purpose,” of the good from beneficiaries, and of man’s actions from reason.
Intrincism is wrong because it omits the relationship of value to valuer, which I will describe as an impersonal theory. Subjectivism is wrong because it omits reality, identity and causal relatonships, so its assertions are necessarily arbitrary. Objectivism includes both the personal relationship of valuer to value and recognition of causal relations that create value. It struck me that there was one combnation missing that would complete the taxonomy of possible theories: a combination of an impersonal theory of value and causal relations. Is there is any actual theory that has these perspectives? Yes there is, we call it determinism.
Determinism is not an actual theory of the good so Rand was correct to omit it above.
The evaluation above takes these ideas at face value, i.e. literally. In actual implementation practice does not match the theory. For example, there is no such thing as an actual intrinsic value even though there are intrinsicists. The things intrinsicists assert to be intrinsic values are arbitrary, which makes them subjectivists. There are such things as subjective values, for example the relationship of a drug addict to his drug is one of valuing. Valuing is an action which if not willfully directed to be objective will default to being subjective. Subjectivism creates values which are good in theory but not in practice by evading identity and causality. Determinists are rationalists spinning a theory from an arbitrary starting point in science; the arbitariness relegates them to a species of subjectivism.
A diagram:The perspectives and methods of thinking described above can be fleshed out with concrete examples of content compatible with each for other fields of philosophy. (Given in epistemlogical/ethical/political order.)
holy relics/religious duty
dialectal materialism/evolutionary psychology/social duty
primacy of emotions/whims
anarchy and then obedience to a totalitarian
Objectivity is a personal perspective on causal relations. Objectivity rests on you identifiying the causal factors that make something true or valuable or lawful. Impartiality or the third-person perspective is not necessary to objectivity and will actually make objectivity impossible to apply to your own life.