• tim wood
    809
    Can you think of one that isn't? Keeping in mind it's facts in question, here.
  • Banno
    2.9k
    Why are we doing this?

    five is less than six; iron oxidises in the presence of oxygen; animals with hearts also have kidneys.
  • tim wood
    809
    Five is less than six is true. Iron oxidises in the presence of oxygen is a fact. Were I the sort of person whose business it was to know that iron oxidises & etc., I should have observed and described it. Subsequently the only way to know is to know the historical fact that such a person did observe and describe it. As such, no one observes facts. One only becomes aware of historical propositions taken to be accurate.

    Does anyone care in casual usage? No. Should people who are attempting to think about what is true and what is a fact know the difference? I think so. Likely you think so too, in that setting.

    Suppose I say Collingwood beat Essendon in 2002 by a score of 66-33. True? No inspection of the proposition itself will answer that - or ever will. The best to be hoped for is accuracy based on research sufficient to compel a reader to say that the evidence in his possession allows him to say that the proposition re-presents a fact.

    Why are we doing this? Because at some moment in the discussion it made a difference.
  • Banno
    2.9k
    Would you accept that every fact is an historical fact (and no fact is non- or a-historical)?tim wood

    Five is less than six is true. Iron oxidises in the presence of oxygen is a fact. Were I the sort of person whose business it was to know that iron oxidises & etc., I should have observed and described it. Subsequently the only way to know is to know the historical fact that such a person did observe and describe it. As such, no one observes facts. One only becomes aware of historical propositions taken to be accurate.tim wood

    Your suggestion was that facts are historical. But what you have argued is that knowledge of facts is historical.

    Not the same thing.

    at some moment in the discussion it made a difference.tim wood

    Where?
  • tim wood
    809
    Your suggestion was that facts are historical. But what you have argued is that knowledge of facts is historical.Banno
    Thank you for the point!

    At the moment I'm thinking the set of known facts is just exactly the set of facts.

    Obviously there are things that no one knows. No doubt that once known, they would be facts. But can an unknown something be a fact, even an unknown fact? To be a fact requires particularity and specificity (sez I). The unknown fact has neither; it has never been observed and described. - it's unknown. So, unless you can carry it a bit further, I have to rule your objection out-of-court.
  • Banno
    2.9k
    To be a fact requires particularity and specificity (sez I).tim wood

    Yeah - we are choosing a grammar here.

    I go with facts as such things as are true. Then we can have facts we don't know.
  • jkg20
    199
    Obviously there are things that no one knows.
    Do you mean to say that there are things which 1) are the case and which could be known, but which 2) no one currently knows? I presume not, since that would quickly lead to those unknown things being facts. So, how do you fill out the idea of a "thing that no one knows"? Are you a realist about such things?
  • BrianW
    26
    Real Truth is inaccessible to us because of physical and mental filters between us and the real world, namely biological, cultural, and psychological.Kaiser Basileus

    I'm not so sure about this. I think what you call filters are channels through which knowledge comes to us. They seem like filters because of their limitations but, through generations of human evolution, we keep expanding them and they maintain their service.

    There are only two ways of knowing, empirical probability and logical necessity.Kaiser Basileus

    This I think is an over-simplification. Usually, intuition gets the first bite long before the scientific method is applied.

    When making decisions, a certainty of 51% is as good as 100% because nothing may exceed it.Kaiser Basileus

    You may be between 25-60% sure of one thing and 44-78% sure of another, contradictory explanationKaiser Basileus

    Doesn't knowing the percentage of certainty imply an idea of what the absolute truth is. Can you know that you have 26% without an idea of 100%? Because, then, the 26% would be arbitrary and not necessarily significant.

    I do believe there is no absolute knowledge but there is comprehensive knowledge for a particular stage in life. Also, I think knowledge applies to all levels of life, including galaxies, stars, planets, animals, plants, even atoms and beyond, the differences being the modes of life and the degrees of application.
    For me, one of the signs of knowledge is the awareness/response mechanism, another is differentiation and utility, all of which are expressed by all of life. I believe every life partakes of its share of knowledge.
  • BrianW
    26
    Instead of a percentage of certainty, perhaps a level of confidence in our expectations...?
  • Kaiser Basileus
    13
    I'd say percentage of certainty and level of confidence are identical. In any case, it's a fuzzy number so to think of it as numbers isn't really important anyway. Level of certainty is the point. Things in the sensable, replicable world that keep being replicable we call truth/fact. When there is no evidence to the contrary, the tiniest shred of evidence is actionable. If you believe there is additional information available then the salience of the decision determines how much you delay the decision in favor of gathering additional information.
  • BrianW
    26
    When there is no evidence to the contrary, the tiniest shred of evidence is actionable. If you believe there is additional information available then the salience of the decision determines how much you delay the decision in favor of gathering additional information.Kaiser Basileus

    I think this refers more to choice than to knowledge. It suggests a kind of response or activity born of perception; something distinctly subjective.

    When a person says, "The world is flat." Is this a statement with reference to knowledge or perception? The person may have no evidence to the contrary (perhaps due to lack of due diligence in acquiring said evidence), and may as well be confident in his claim. It is also actionable (many sailors and navigators did set out to discover the end of the world based on such ideas and propositions). So, my question is, Can knowledge be wrong? Or, does knowledge bear any relationship to truth?

    I believe application of knowledge can be subjective but I don't think knowledge is.
  • Sapientia
    5.6k
    Epistemology is all about certainty...Kaiser Basileus

    Is it? I thought that it was about knowledge.
  • tim wood
    809
    Do you mean to say that there are things which 1) are the case and which could be known, but which 2) no one currently knows? I presume not, since that would quickly lead to those unknown things being facts.jkg20

    Somewhere in a remote galaxy a planet revolves around a star. What do we know about it? Nothing. Is there any doubt that if and when we learn anything about it, that what we learn will constitute what we call facts about it?

    Can we have facts we don't know? How? We can hypotheses, conjectures, and where the light trails of into complete darkness, guesses and science fiction. To be a fact requires more than nothing. With nothing, there is no fact.
  • Banno
    2.9k
    Can we have facts we don't know?tim wood

    This trades on the ambiguity of "Have".

    Can we know facts we don't know? of course not.

    Can there be facts we don't know? of course there can.
  • tim wood
    809
    Can there be facts we don't know? of course there can.Banno
    Easy to say. But what is a fact that has no content? One problem: if there can be facts we don't know, that should cause us to ask if there are any criteria for being a fact. If nothing is such a criteria, then why cannot we have alternate facts, alternate nothings? And there is a very large supply of nothing - there can be as many facts as you like. Accuracy doesn't matter. Nothing about any contentless fact can be either true or false.

    The idea of facts we don't know puts us both feet in Wonderland.

    I can see that from your casual and informal point of view, careless use of language only makes a difference if it makes a difference (that or it makes no difference at all). Trouble is, you haven't recognized that it makes a difference here. What difference? That I say it makes a difference.

    Disregarding difference as a matter of convenience or personal style is one thing, Denial is another matter. I'd like it now if you'd simply agree that true and fact are not synonyms, that they do not mean the same thing - or make the case that they are and do.
  • Banno
    2.9k
    One problem: if there can be facts we don't know, that should cause us to ask if there are any criteria for being a fact. If nothing is such a criteria, then why cannot we have alternate facts, alternate nothings? And there is a very large supply of nothing - there can be as many facts as you like. Accuracy doesn't matter. Nothing about any contentless fact can be either true or false.tim wood
    You are over-thinking it. There are things you don't know, that are nevertheless facts - the colour of the cup I had coffee from this morning, and so on. It's not hard to see that there are facts that no one knows.

    The inability to account for such a commonplace suggests that that an approach in which all facts must be known is just plain wrong.
  • tim wood
    809
    You are over-thinking it. There are things you don't know, that are nevertheless facts - the colour of the cup I had coffee from this morning, and so on. It's not hard to see that there are facts that no one knows.
    The inability to account for such a commonplace suggests that that an approach in which all facts must be known is just plain wrong.
    Banno
    Not that all facts must be known, but that to be a fact, there must be content in the fact.

    Three broad questions have surfaced here: 1) are true and fact synonyms? Do they mean the same thing? 2) What does fact mean? 3) Under that definition/understanding of "fact," is "fact" applicable where there is no knowledge? Or, in order to be a fact, does not the fact have to comprehend something as knowledge of that something - in simplest terms, to aver possession of a fact is to claim to have knowledge?
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