• Athena
    1.6k
    The word 'fact' is often used throughout the English speaking world. Some philosophers believe that nouns like 'fact' have an exact meaning. I'm not sure what could be the exact meaning of fact. :confused:Wheatley

    Words are a problem and that makes logic a problem and sometimes we have to just go with the flow. I will settle for the idea that a fact is about 3-dimensional reality and it is something that can be proven true. That means a lot of things we argue about are not factual but opinion and perspective and that everything goes better when we keep that in mind.

    I hate riding in the car with two kids in the back seat intensely arguing about something that does not matter and how ridiculous this is when it is possible to get the facts and end the argument but no one really cares about the facts, they just want to win the argument. They are not even aware that there is no substance to their argument.
  • Athena
    1.6k
    The public merely observes. Swallowing everything that is served swallow-ready, without chewing, unconsciously digesting only. Who serves?Thunderballs

    That is a very interesting comment. Daniel Kahneman's explanation of fast and slow thinking. Slow thinking takes a lot of energy and our brains like to conserve energy so most of the time we follow our feelings and are not actually thinking. That is so true for politics! We vote for our team because it is our team.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3k
    something that can be proven trueAthena

    But Hume.

    The "provable true or false" definition seems to be widely used in "critical thinking" curricula, and it's what Pew used in a recent survey -- more as a definition of "factual" really -- but to a lot of philosophers the word "prove" there is going to mean the word "fact" might as well not exist.
  • Janus
    10.7k
    You did not address my objection that if truth and fact mean exactly the same thing, why have two words instead of one?

    There are multiple words for other concepts: justice and fairness for example. In any sentence in English of the form "It is true that", "it is a fact that" can be substituted. But in a wider context they don't mean exactly the same things just as justice and fairness don't.

    "Truth" would be closer to 'factuality', and 'true' to 'factual'. But 'true' is a broader term; you cannot substitute 'fact' in the sentences 'his aim was true',or 'her love was true' or 'she is a true friend'. But to repeat, in propositional language as shown in 'it is true that' substitution makes sense.

    Rather, you agree with my view; get over it. :-)Olivier5

    OK, this is getting too weird. If you want to believe that I agree with you, go ahead, you will be wrong, but it's no skin off my nose.
  • Janus
    10.7k
    A fact is a fact because our theories make them a fact. — Thunderballs

    I think you're right. It's the public who decide what a "facts" is, not armchair philosophers.
    Wheatley

    Of course it is people (not the public) who decides what is fact and what is not. But that means they decide what they take to be fact and what they do not. Are you denying that they might be wrong and what they take to be fact might not be?

    Historical facts are accurate observations done and recorded in the past, that's all. There usually is a way to observe the record.Olivier5

    And what if the record is not correct when everyone thinks it is? Did Caesar really cross the Rubicon? Who really knows for sure?
  • Olivier5
    2.9k
    OK, this is getting too weird. If you want to believe that I agree with you, go ahead, you will be wrong, but it's no skin off my nose.Janus

    What is really weird is to debate a dude who would rather die than be seen agreeing with you... It is also a waste of time.
  • Banno
    14.2k
    A question - is that the area of a circle is given by   π r² a fact?

    Who says no?

    How is this confirmed by observation?
  • Isaac
    5.2k
    How is this confirmed by observation?Banno

    Looking it up in a maths textbook?
  • Outlander
    1.3k
    A question - is that the area of a circle is given by π r² a fact?

    Who says no?

    How is this confirmed by observation?
    Banno

    Anyone who associates or defines different values or meaning to the symbols or nomenclature used. Not a particularly deep or profound answer, kind of like pointing out how one word means something else in another language, but it can be expanded on to the point of a curious conundrum, perhaps with a bit of thought.

    Sure, a mathematical law, rather a sound equation would qualify as a fact, but to some the former terms describe it better and with more resoluteness. Math is indeed unique in this respect. Even science is constantly proving itself wrong then right again and back and forth. Though it's hardly the language of the gods some believe it to be.. you have one apple and I give you another, you have two. If it vanishes into thin air, you only have one. It's the one language both toddlers and professional mathematicians can understand.

    As to what constitutes a 'fact' however, that is a bit less absolutely defined. We can have personal truths, but not personal facts. Therefore, it is a (successful?) attempt at placing a well-founded belief alongside the laws, nature, and truths of the gods (the absolute). Until proven wrong of course. Some are, some aren't. That's probably where the term "fun fact" comes from really :razz:

    Edit: We have to understand, respect, and acknowledge the duality between the absolute and the relative. Facts, truths, reality even- as some myopically group the first two under- are all subject to change at a moment's notice, this is the absolute nature of reality. Simple example is stating "the door is closed" in reference to a door that is in fact, closed. Until I open it. It seems obvious and common sense but you'd be surprised how many seem to get caught off guard, and worse, when this fact (tee hee) confronts them in more.. personal aspects of ingrained, core belief.
  • Olivier5
    2.9k
    A question - is that the area of a circle is given by   π r² a fact?

    Who says no?
    Banno

    Riemann and Lobachevsky.
  • Banno
    14.2k
    I don't think so. Show me that they made this claim. Not that it is not a special case, but that it is not a fact.
    And you claim facts are the result of observation. What observations shows Riemann and Lobachevsky that π r² is not a fact?
  • Olivier5
    2.9k
    I don't think so.Banno

    Oh shoot, Banno does not think so, and he knows best.
  • Banno
    14.2k
    Oh shoot, Banno does not think so, and he knows best.Olivier5

    SO present your case.
  • Banno
    14.2k

    Thanks.
    Math is indeed unique in this respect.Outlander

    From that, a subsidiary question: Is that the Bishop moves only diagonally a fact?

    This by way of digging further into facts as issues of what we might as a start call convention. We can't have personal facts - is that because they are conventional?
  • Olivier5
    2.9k
    SO present your case.Banno

    You won't pay attention.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3k
    Is that the Bishop moves only diagonally a fact?Banno

    Alekhine: No, because it is stipulated that this is how bishops move.
    Morphy: But if it's a case of "saying it's so makes it so", then it must make it so, and what are facts if not how things are?
    Alekhine: But facts aren't stipulated; they are discovered. Your saying the moon's made of green cheese doesn't make it so.
    Morphy: My saying it wouldn't physically change the moon, but your stipulating doesn't physically change the chess pieces either.
    Alekhine: It doesn't make it physically impossible to move a bishop any other way, no. But suppose it did, and suppose I "physically stipulated" that some bishop moves like a rook. Then you could study this set and discover that this particular piece had been "physically stipulated" to move like a rook. Then indeed it would be a fact that it does. That's not what we do; we say this is how the bishop is supposed to be moved. It's really nothing to do with the chess pieces; it's a rule people are supposed to follow when they're playing chess.
    Morphy: But isn't it a fact that the rules of chess, including how bishops move, are what they are?
    Alekhine: That things are what they are is the law of identity.
    Morphy: No, I mean, the laws of chess are what they happen to be, as a matter of history; they have been different in the past, and what we call "chess" today might have had different rules.
    Alekhine: Okay...
    Morphy: And the current state of the rules of chess is something we discover, something handed down to us, not something any of us stipulate.
    Alekhine: But they are stipulated by FIDE and by the USCF and many other official bodies!
    Morphy: The official rules for sanctioned competition have to be made explicit, of course, but they're only codifying the rules as they have been handed down, not stipulating them afresh.
    Alekhine: Agreed.
    Morphy: And if they were to make a little change, say capping a bishop's movement at four squares, we'd all say, "That's not chess, but a chess variant."
    Alekhine: Agreed.
    Morphy: Then the rules of chess are historical fact that we discover.
    Alekhine: They are handed down from generation to generation, and what is handed down can be discovered, yes; but what is handed down are rules for playing the game, not facts. That something is what people say is a fact, but what they say is not made a fact by their saying it.
  • Olivier5
    2.9k
    Witty. Given that Morphy died in 1884 and Alekhine was born in 1892, I take this as one of these "dialogues in hell" which philosophers of old have accustomed us to. :-)
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3k
    Both are immortal, thank you very much.
  • Olivier5
    2.9k
    We need to start a chess club..
  • Athena
    1.6k
    But Hume.

    The "provable true or false" definition seems to be widely used in "critical thinking" curricula, and it's what Pew used in a recent survey -- more as a definition of "factual" really -- but to a lot of philosophers the word "prove" there is going to mean the word "fact" might as well not exist.
    Srap Tasmaner

    Okay but I am pragmatic. I want empirical proof. And to me, the structure for a proof that can prove something that is totally ridiculous is true is not a fact, but a good reason to seek a better way to determine if something is true, because obviously, that logic structure is not doing the job.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3k
    I want empirical proof.Athena

    No can do. Evidence is all you're ever going to get.

    Anyway, that's the party line. I don't have a solid alternative to offer.
  • Athena
    1.6k
    Okay, being pragmatic I will settle for evidence.
    No can do. Evidence is all you're ever going to get.

    Anyway, that's the party line. I don't have a solid alternative to offer.
    Srap Tasmaner

    So if a dog is a dog, that is not a fact? How many things can exist and not be factual?
  • Outlander
    1.3k
    From that, a subsidiary question: Is that the Bishop moves only diagonally a fact?

    This by way of digging further into facts as issues of what we might as a start call convention. We can't have personal facts - is that because they are conventional?
    Banno

    It is a fact that convention forbids any other movement for said piece. So, Maybe. :grin:

    Convention, tradition, rules (especially mutually agreed upon), social contract. Personal facts may be far from convention. Ie. if you happen to be a minority political party and "oh this guy sucks" may be a fact for you, rather a firmly held belief, it could be far from.. well it is convention for your particular party.. I suppose who's convention is the question, it doesn't need to be the majority. An unconventional convention, is still a convention, right?

    Edit: But, you can craft your personal belief into something that resembles or at least sounds like a fact by prefacing it with a simple "I think" or "It is my belief" that...

    It is a fact that you think or believe something. That's no longer an opinion. The subject is an opinion of course but the statement has now become fact.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3k
    So if a dog is a dog, that is not a fact?Athena

    It's true. I wouldn't call it a fact, but you can if you like. It's provable. It's also uninformative.

    And sometimes dogs turn out to be coyotes.
  • Athena
    1.6k
    It's true. I wouldn't call it a fact, but you can if you like. It's provable. It's also uninformative.

    And sometimes dogs turn out to be coyotes.
    Srap Tasmaner

    Domestic dogs and coyotes, wolves, foxes etc. are dogs, or more scientifically precise, canines. The animal's characteristics determine the biological family to which it belongs. That is imperialistic and it works for organizing our thinking. Something Sumerians could not do because they did not have words for different biological groups such as trees and bushes. We have words for classifying plants and animals. A bush is not a tree and a tree is not a bush, but all trees share characteristics in common and all bushes share characteristics in common. All canines share characteristics in common and belong to one family called canines. They are distinctly different from cats or felidae. If that is not a fact please explain.
  • Athena
    1.6k
    Of course it is people (not the public) who decides what is fact and what is not. But that means they decide what they take to be fact and what they do not. Are you denying that they might be wrong and what they take to be fact might not be?Janus

    Our brains are relatively useless without language and language without classifications would make scientific thinking impossible. In different regions of the earth, people will have different names for cats and dogs, water and air, etc. so the exact name may not matter, but the ability to classify what is being named does matter.
  • Athena
    1.6k
    And you claim facts are the result of observation. What observations shows Riemann and Lobachevsky that π r² is not a fact?Banno

    Interesting question. If we had no mathematical symbols could we have mathematical facts?
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