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Define 'Fact"

 
 
existential potential
 
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Reply Mon 26 May, 2008 12:03 pm
Its not a fact that the sun goes around the earth, they did not "know" this.
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Wolf ODonnell
 
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Reply Mon 26 May, 2008 12:21 pm
existential potential wrote:
Its not a fact that the sun goes around the earth, they did not "know" this.


They believed it and to them this was a fact. Then Galileo came along and showed us otherwise.

Facts are common knowledge. Truth is something else, a bit more complicated.
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Setanta
 
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Reply Mon 26 May, 2008 02:29 pm
Re: Define 'Fact"
neologist wrote:
From a philosophical point of view, what is a fact?


It is interesting that as you have posted this question in Philosophy and Debate, as opposed to Science and Mathematics, or Spirituality and Religion, where you have not gotten the usual suspects.

In S&M or S&R threads, this would be a subject of heated debate, because it impinges so closely on the issue of "proof," whether that would be a scientific proof, or a proof for some alleged aspect of religious poofism.

How very sly you are, Neo . . . got a cuppa coffee?
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DavidIg
 
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Reply Mon 26 May, 2008 03:57 pm
Wolf_ODonnell wrote:
existential potential wrote:
Its not a fact that the sun goes around the earth, they did not "know" this.


They believed it and to them this was a fact. Then Galileo came along and showed us otherwise.

Facts are common knowledge. Truth is something else, a bit more complicated.


It should start to dawn on people that the word fact has multiple meanings and that it's relevance is contextual, ie, that the atmosphere exists is a fact and true, that statements made in various books exist is a fact, but not necessarily true.

A fact is really "that which is" given a certain context.
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agrote
 
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Reply Mon 26 May, 2008 04:09 pm
Wolf_ODonnell wrote:
I disagree. Truth and facts are not inextricably linked.

For example, it is a fact that in the Bible, Israelite priests brought down the walls of Jericho. However, archaeology has proven that the city never had walls when the Israelites were around, so they couldn't have brought walls down.

Here, fact and truth are not related.


You're confusing the fact that the Bible says that Israelite priests brought down the walls of Jericho with the possible fact that Israelite priests actually did bring down the walls of Jericho.

Quote:
It is a fact that the sun goes around the earth. Every pre-heliocentrist person knew this. Yet, it wasn't exactly true, was it?


Knowledge requires truth. You can't know something if it isn't true; you can only believe it. Preheliocentrists believed that the sun went around the earth, but they didn't know it because it wasn't true. It is not a fact that the sun goes around the earth, and it never has been. You've given no good reason to believe otherwise.
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agrote
 
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Reply Mon 26 May, 2008 04:20 pm
Wolf_ODonnell wrote:
They believed it and to them this was a fact. Then Galileo came along and showed us otherwise.


Why do you switch from relativism to realism as soon as Galileo enters the picture? You say the sun going round the earth was only true "to them", but you seem to imply that the earth going round the sun is not just true for Galileo, but for all of us. Why's that?

What actually happened was that before Galileo people were mistaken, and he corrected them. To them it was a fact that the sun went roudn the earth, but in reality this was not a fact. Galileo discovered that the earth went round the sun all along. He did not make this a fact, he discovered that it was a fact.

Quote:
Facts are common knowledge. Truth is something else, a bit more complicated.


Again, knowledge requires truth. What you mean to say is 'common belief'. You can use the word 'fact' to refer to common belief if it makes you happy, but what word are you going to use to refer to the state of affairs which makes a belief true? I suppose 'state of affairs' would do, but it's not very snappy. 'Truthmaker' is perhaps the best available alternative.

Nobody is suggesting that facts are truth. We are suggesting that they are the things that are true.
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rosborne979
 
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Reply Mon 26 May, 2008 05:46 pm
neologist wrote:
In case any one has yet to notice, I posted this same question in Science, Philosophy and Religion Forums

The differing points of view are interesting, but not yet enlightening, IMO.

Not enlightening to you maybe, but I'm finding the differences interesting.
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Cyracuz
 
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Reply Mon 26 May, 2008 07:44 pm
A fact is a claim of any kind that has the approval of enough people that it is accepted as truth, or perhaps actuality is a better word.
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JLNobody
 
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Reply Mon 26 May, 2008 09:40 pm
When we talk of "facts" we usually indicate something that is "objective" and "absolute", like "brute" facts or "raw" data. But it seems to me that facts are really little theories and data are "cooked" insofar as we have preconceptions of what they are going to mean to the studies that use them.
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DavidIg
 
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Reply Mon 26 May, 2008 11:56 pm
JLNobody wrote:
When we talk of "facts" we usually indicate something that is "objective" and "absolute", like "brute" facts or "raw" data. But it seems to me that facts are really little theories and data are "cooked" insofar as we have preconceptions of what they are going to mean to the studies that use them.


A fact is really "that which is" given a certain context.
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Jenifer Johnson
 
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Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 12:52 am
There are only two states of being, true or false. A fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality, because it is the state of being true.

It is a fact that in the Bible, Moses claims he talked to God. But, it is also a fact that Moses is a liar, because he never talked to God.

It is a fact that they believed the earth was flat. But, it is also a fact that the earth is round.
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Francis
 
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Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 01:01 am
If facts depend on the context and the perception of the observers, then they are simple assumptions.

Therefore, I'd go with this:

Cyracuz wrote:
A fact is a claim of any kind that has the approval of enough people...
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Francis
 
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Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 01:04 am
Jenifer Johnson wrote:
It is a fact that they believed the earth was flat. But, it is also a fact that the earth is round.


Sorry, this is far from being a fact.

Check out the roundness of the earth..

And don't tell me about approximativeness.
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Jenifer Johnson
 
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Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 01:16 am
Francis : Sorry, this is far from being a fact.


Prove it false, then.


Information presented as fact, doesn't not make it a fact. Only by being of the state of reality, is a fact, truly a fact.
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Francis
 
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Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 01:24 am
Jenifer Johnson wrote:
Prove it false, then.


That's lame JJ..

Mesures by satellites triangulation have already, and easily, proved it's false.

Even before those techniques existed, it was proven already.

Earth is nowhere close to rotondity.

But maybe you can assert that rotondity is not roundness...

Facts are NOT true or false. They depend on the perceiver..
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Jenifer Johnson
 
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Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 01:25 am
A picture is worth a thousand words
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Francis
 
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Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 01:30 am
That's all, JJ? Is a picture on a screen your evidence that the Earth is round?

Twisted Evil Twisted Evil

Pffttt!

Obviously, we are not discussing in the same level or even the same univers..
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Jenifer Johnson
 
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Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 01:42 am
Francis : Obviously, we are not discussing in the same level or even the same univers..
Facts are NOT true or false.


I will agree with you, that you are not apart of my universe, because by definition, in order for something to be a fact, it has to be true.
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Francis
 
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Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 01:59 am
I mean, really, I'm apart of your universe..

Like in worlds apart.
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Jenifer Johnson
 
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Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 02:23 am
Francis: Facts are NOT true or false. They depend on the perceiver..

Reality is made up of facts.

There is only one reality, but there are as many perceptions of reality as there are people, making reality twofold, which depends on which side we are talking about.

The one side, facts are independent of individual thought and absolute, because they are true.

The other side, is the belief or perception of something as a fact or true, which is what is dependent on the perceiver.

in fact : in truth
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