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Define 'Fact"

 
 
agrote
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 03:01 am
I'm glad to finally see another die-hard realist/correspondence theorist here (Jenifer, I mean).

Cyracuz wrote:
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.


I find that idea totally bizarre. How many people is enough? If half the world believes that Jesus existed in 30AD and half the world believes he didn't, does that mean it's true both that he did exist in 30AD and that he didn't? How is that possible?

Believing does not make it so. What you are talking about is apparent fact.

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.


If we have preconceptions about how to interpret data, then so much for the scientific method. I don't see what that has to do with the reality that we are trying (and perhaps failing) to gain knowledge of.

Water either does or does not freeze at 0 degrees celsius. Our belief that it does may be based on certain preconceptions, and may be a case of mere belief rather than knowledge. But the fact of the matter remains the same regardless of our epistemological access to it.

Francis wrote:
If facts depend on the context and the perception of the observers, then they are simple assumptions.


But they don't, so they aren't.

Francis wrote:
Sorry, this is far from being a fact.

Check out the roundness of the earth..

And don't tell me about approximativeness.


I'm afraid you're missing the point, which is that whether or not the earth is round is a matter of fact independent of whether we believe it. Jenifer may have been mistaken to claim that the earth is round*, but that claim was not central to her post. If the earth is not round then it is a fact that it isn't round, and it would still be a fact even if we all came to agree with Jenifer.

It is a fact that Jenifer believed that the earth was round, but it is also a fact that it isn't perfectly round.

*I'm sure she was being approximate though, and I'm not sure why you said, "don't tell me about approximativeness". Why not??

Quote:
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.


So why are you imposing your perception, or the perception of some satellites, on the rest of us? If you're the relativist that you purport to be, why are you quibbling about whether or not the earth is round? Maybe it's round to Jenifer and not to you, and you're both right in your own ways.

Or maybe that's the most ridiculous idea anybody has ever come up with. The earth is of course, in reality, either round or not round, regardless of who perceives it and what they think.

I don't think anybody claimed that facts are "true or false". Facts are all true. It is statements about reality than can be either true or false: true if they correspond to a fact, and false if they do not. Falsity is the absence of a fact.
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Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 05:10 am
Quote:
I find that idea totally bizarre. How many people is enough? If half the world believes that Jesus existed in 30AD and half the world believes he didn't, does that mean it's true both that he did exist in 30AD and that he didn't? How is that possible?


Well, what's true depends who yer asking?
Personally I wouldn't talk about facts in the context of your example. Too many unsubstantiated claims there. That is why we cannot agree on what really happened.

Another fact: The heart is slightly to the left in the chest.

Nobody disputes that. It's fact, not because it is indeed so, but because everyone agrees that it is so.
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Francis
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 05:27 am
agrote wrote:
Falsity is the absence of a fact.


I could claim, in some instances, that falsity is a fact...
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agrote
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 08:54 am
Cyracuz wrote:
Quote:
I find that idea totally bizarre. How many people is enough? If half the world believes that Jesus existed in 30AD and half the world believes he didn't, does that mean it's true both that he did exist in 30AD and that he didn't? How is that possible?


Well, what's true depends who yer asking?


Do you really believe that? Can't people be mistaken?
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agrote
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 09:02 am
Everybody please read this article by Simon Blackburn about relativism. It's short and easy to read, and I'd be interested to hear what most of the people on this thread think about it.

http://www.butterfliesandwheels.com/articleprint.php?num=12

Seriously, it's well worth reading.
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Jenifer Johnson
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 04:00 pm
Cyracuz : It's fact, not because it is indeed so, but because everyone agrees that it is so.

That would be like saying, because everyone doesn't know of my existence (no agreement or consensus), then I can't exist.

Sorry, Charley, but I exist.

The fact that I exist is independent of individual thought, because it is reality. Truth is the final arbiter of reality, independent of individual thought. Agreement or consensus has nothing to do with the fact of being true.

Example: just because a majority of the world believe in the bible god, the consensus doesn't make the bible god true. The reality is, the bible god is nothing more than a sock puppet, constructed to have political control over another, by using "GOD said". A fraud, and a con-game perpetrated by charlatans and political whores.
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agrote
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 04:42 pm
Jenifer Johnson wrote:
Example: just because a majority of the world believe in the bible god, the consensus doesn't make the bible god true. The reality is, the bible god is nothing more than a sock puppet, constructed to have political control over another, by using "GOD said". A fraud, and a con-game perpetrated by charlatans and political whores.


To strengthen your point, even if you were mistaken, the fact of God's existence would be independent of yours and anyone else's judgment to the contrary. He either exists or he doesn't, and belief or consensus has got nothing to do with it.

(Just trying to anticipate any posts that might go off on a tangent about whether you're right about God. You are, of course, but obviously not everybody will agree.)
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neologist
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 06:14 pm
Re: Define 'Fact"
Setanta wrote:
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?
I'll brew sum up next time I see ya, Set. But this topic has been a dud in Science and Mathematics.
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Jenifer Johnson
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 11:02 pm
Francis :I could claim, in some instances, that falsity is a fact.

The falsity is a fact, because it is true that it is false, not because a fact, happens to be false.

Example: The fact that there is a dogma that claims there is a god of the Bible, is true, but the reality of that fact, is false.
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herb Salter
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jun, 2008 03:20 pm
From a philosophical point of view, what is a fact?

In my opinion.


Something that can be argued to be true.

Of course this brings up the question what is true.
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neologist
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Jun, 2008 09:08 am
herb Salter wrote:
From a philosophical point of view, what is a fact?

In my opinion.


Something that can be argued to be true.

Of course this brings up the question what is true.
A question reportedly asked of Jesus by Pilate. (John 18:38)
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Jun, 2008 12:48 pm
From the point of view of "reality" as a social construction", facts are nodes of agreement about statements regarding predicted interactions with "the world".

If I look out of my window now and observe (interact with) "the world" I may make statements to myself or another party that "X is the case" which are relevant to subsequent interactions. e.g. I might say "My neighbour has the builders in" which is relevant to the prediction "it's going to be noisy round here". What I DONT say (observe) is e.g. "That grass is green" (unless I am an artist talking to myself). Such trivia merely make for the subject of philosophy seminars on "realism" and are irrelevant to de facto "social reality" and THAT ALONE is what I claim "reality" is. i.e. The philosophy seminar is merely an artificial social exchange in which games are played about the hypothetical voicing of statements about "the world" which are never voiced outside the seminar.
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contrex
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Jun, 2008 02:37 pm
Quote:
The philosophy seminar is merely an artificial social exchange in which games are played about the hypothetical voicing of statements about "the world" which are never voiced outside the seminar.


Well said.
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Jun, 2008 12:39 am
I would add that the utterance of the word "fact" is only meaningful within a discourse where it represents a pause in the flow of communication/interaction where prediction is subject to potential dispute. Such disputes are referenced to positions along a "confidence dimension" ranging from one to zero, the poles representing conventional "truth" and "falsity". Where there is no dispute, the concept of "fact" is vacuous. Facts (from the Latin FACARE =TO MAKE) are about subsequent actions, not passive "states of affairs" independent of actors.
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contrex
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Jun, 2008 10:15 am
Quote:
Facts (from the Latin FACARE =TO MAKE) are about subsequent actions, not passive "states of affairs" independent of actors.


In French, un fait is a fact, and fait is the past participle of the verb faire (to do or make) so the word for "fact" also means "made" or "done". Other Romance languages are similar.
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