Facts

Get Email Updates Email this Topic Print this Page

Reply Wed 25 Mar, 2009 05:57 pm
1. Are there non-contingent facts? (metaphyisc)

2. Can we come to know non-contingent facts? (epistemic)

3. In what sense can we know contingent facts? Are all facts mind dependent?

4. Supposing that you deny 1, what is your position on mind-independent facts? It would seem that a non-contingent fact just is a mind-independent fact.

5. Suppose that you have two systems of fact (moral and legal; religious and scientific; philosophical and social), can one be 'reduced' to the other? Can all the facts of a religious system of fact explain and describe in sum the system of fact therein the scientific? What sense would the concept of fact in the latter bear relationally to the sense of the concept of fact in the former? Can we call a second-order (religious) fact a fact? In the same sense as a first-order (scientific) fact? These questions are about the reductive methodological principle. Is this principle justified?
 
nameless
 
Reply Wed 25 Mar, 2009 11:05 pm
@nerdfiles,
I think that you need to define what you mean by a 'fact' before a fruitful response can be crafted.
 
nerdfiles
 
Reply Wed 25 Mar, 2009 11:19 pm
@nameless,
nameless wrote:
I think that you need to define what you mean by a 'fact' before a fruitful response can be crafted.


A state of affairs which obtains; a thing which can be true and is true.

So, "the cat is on the mat" (perceptual); "Bob is in my house" (spatial); "It is 9 o'clock" (temporal); "Susan committed adultery" (legal fact); "Kevin is morally virtuous" (sociological descriptive fact masked in moral language).
 
nameless
 
Reply Thu 26 Mar, 2009 12:48 pm
@nerdfiles,
nerdfiles;55201 wrote:
nameless wrote:

I think that you need to define what you mean by a 'fact' before a fruitful response can be crafted.

A state of affairs which obtains; a thing which can be true and is true.

'True' from what Perspective? At what 'time'? In what context?

Quote:
So, "the cat is on the mat" (perceptual); "Bob is in my house" (spatial); "It is 9 o'clock" (temporal); "Susan committed adultery" (legal fact); "Kevin is morally virtuous" (sociological descriptive fact masked in moral language).

All these 'facts' are completely (tentative and) conditional; very small 't' 'truths' indeed. Seems like a rather mundane understanding of 'facts' and 'truth'. The flat earth was a 'fact/truth' once. Of what value is calling something a 'fact' without including context (when, where, to what observer under what conditions, etc...)
 
nerdfiles
 
Reply Fri 27 Mar, 2009 12:14 am
@nameless,
nameless wrote:
'True' from what Perspective? At what 'time'? In what context?


All these 'facts' are completely (tentative and) conditional; very small 't' 'truths' indeed. Seems like a rather mundane understanding of 'facts' and 'truth'. The flat earth was a 'fact/truth' once. Of what value is calling something a 'fact' without including context (when, where, to what observer under what conditions, etc...)


You do realize that is my first question, right? I'm asking if they even exist.

Obviously they're all contingent (or conditional). So I'm asking if there are any outside of this. You're the one who asked for examples.

If they don't exist, they don't have a value. So perhaps you could give an argument that they do not exist. You claim they are all conditional. What about mathematical truths and necessary truths?

2+2=4 doesn't seem to be true somewhere or at some time. It seems to have a value with respect to mathematics. And it's certainly a mathematical fact.

Rather than attack my examples, answer my original post. Or defend your claim that there is no value in calling mathematical results "facts." I've given my argument.

They're true irrespective to time and place and context. Mathematical facts are non-contextual facts.
 
nameless
 
Reply Fri 27 Mar, 2009 12:31 pm
@nerdfiles,
nerdfiles;55167 wrote:
nameless wrote:
Ok. I'll try again.

1. Are there non-contingent facts? (metaphyisc)

No.

Quote:
2. Can we come to know non-contingent facts? (epistemic)

No.

Quote:
3. In what sense can we know contingent facts?

The only 'facts' (or anything else) that we can know are 'contingent' (contextual).

Quote:
Are all facts mind dependent?

Of course, existence is 'mind (perception) dependent'.

Quote:
4. Supposing that you deny 1, what is your position on mind-independent facts?

There is nothing 'mind independent'.

Quote:
It would seem that a non-contingent fact just is a mind-independent fact.

Hypothetically true, but a fantasy nontheless. There is no, nor can there be any evidence at all for such a creature!

Quote:
Obviously they're all contingent (or conditional).

So you answered your own question #1.

Quote:
So I'm asking if there are any outside of this.

As I said, no.

Quote:
If they don't exist, they don't have a value.

I hope that you didn't work too hard on this one...

Quote:
So perhaps you could give an argument that they do not exist.

Sorry, that is another fallacy. One cannot prove or logically argue that 'something' (which cannot be 'something' if it doesnt exist) does not exist. All evidence is that 'everything exists' (in context). There is not anything that does not exist.

Quote:
You claim they are all conditional. What about mathematical truths and necessary truths?

No different.

Quote:
2+2=4 doesn't seem to be true somewhere or at some time. It seems to have a value with respect to mathematics. And it's certainly a mathematical fact.

But, in 'reality', beyond the tightly confined and isolated tautologies of math, the true 'fact' that;
2 (drops of water) + 2 (drops of water) = 1 (drop of water)
1 drop + 1 drop = 1 drop of water (though larger, but that isn't what we are talking about)
1 drop - 1 drop (of < size) = 1 drop of water.
1 drop - 3 drops (where the sum volume of the 3 drops deleted is < the original volume) = 1 drop
1 drop - 3 drops can, likewise = 1 drop
1 pile of sand + 1 pile of sand = 1 (big) pile of sand
1 pile of sand - 1 shovelful = 1 pile of sand

Capisce'?
Conditional.

You might not 'like' these 'facts', but their very existence disproves any claims to universality of your mathematical proposition.
2+2=4 sometimes, under certain conditions, from certain Perspectives.
I've just presented a Perspective and condition in which your proposition fails.

Quote:
Rather than attack my examples, answer my original post.

All that is false must be weeded out by attack (critical thought). If your examples illustrate your point, demonstrating the fallacy of the examples directly addresses your 'point'.

Quote:
Or defend your claim that there is no value in calling mathematical results "facts."

Sorry, that is a straw-man fallacy. I never claimed any such thing! Please do not put words in my mouth.
I do question, however, the very (subjective) notion of 'facts' as 'commonly understood' by the herd. I question the 'value' of such an obsolete, medieval term that implies the impossible.
There is no scientific 'certainty' at all. Nothing!
So called 'facts', are not 'certainties' as commonly 'believed'.

Quote:
I've given my argument.

And I have responded.

Quote:
They're true irrespective to time and place and context. Mathematical facts are non-contextual facts.

Nonsense.
 
xris
 
Reply Fri 27 Mar, 2009 01:11 pm
@nameless,
Surely there are facts that stand the rigours of examination more than others.This attention to certainty is a bit radical.There is a god, there is a pile of sand, there is life on other planets,two grains of sand make a desert.Facts are to be judged on their merits not on a relationship to the notion there are no facts..
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Fri 27 Mar, 2009 01:39 pm
@nerdfiles,
nerdfiles wrote:
Suppose that you have two systems of fact (moral and legal; religious and scientific; philosophical and social), can one be 'reduced' to the other? Can all the facts of a religious system of fact explain and describe in sum the system of fact therein the scientific? What sense would the concept of fact in the latter bear relationally to the sense of the concept of fact in the former? Can we call a second-order (religious) fact a fact? In the same sense as a first-order (scientific) fact? These questions are about the reductive methodological principle. Is this principle justified


I don't think that one can be reduced to the other. I find morality and law mutually exclusive (although many would disagree) as well as science/religion, but I do not see the same relation with the philosophical/social paradigm. I doubt whether there are moral, religious, or philosophical facts. Of course, I am kind of hazy on what nerdfiles was trying to get at, so my statements are probably equally unintelligible. What is a "religious system of fact" anyway?
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Fri 27 Mar, 2009 02:58 pm
@nerdfiles,
Disregard at present.
 
nameless
 
Reply Sat 28 Mar, 2009 03:46 am
@xris,
xris;55418 wrote:
Surely there are facts that stand the rigours of examination more than others.

The 'facts' do not stand the rigors of critical examination, the evidence, though, does. And it is probabilities, not 'facts', some, of course, higher than others, all contingent/contextual.

Quote:
Facts are to be judged on their merits not on a relationship to the notion there are no facts..

Right, and again, we are dealing with probabilities which never, NEVER reach 100% (without entering the land of religion and 'beliefs') certainty.
The common notion of a 'fact' is as some magical universal truth, such as the statement 2+2=4 that implies a truth for all times, for all places, from every Perspective, 100%.
This 'common notion' needs to accept the world transforming powers of an available critical update to keep pace with present scientific understanding (displacing the now refuted, obsolete, medieval notions and views).
 
xris
 
Reply Sat 28 Mar, 2009 04:27 am
@nameless,
Im a bit confused between evidence and facts, are they not the same? If i examine a fact i have to accept other facts to examine them.If we take nothing as factual the whole of experimental science falls apart.We build our life on the security that 1+1=2.How would anyone build a pc if they did not have that security?The abstract notion that two piles of sand make a desert or a sand castle and that two drops of water make one can be explained by another fact not denied it.
 
nameless
 
Reply Sat 28 Mar, 2009 06:33 am
@xris,
xris;55495 wrote:
Im a bit confused between evidence and facts, are they not the same?

Nope. The 'evidence' is a rock on the table that we are looking at from different sides. A 'fact' (is composed of our thoughts about that evidence) to the person on the side opposite me, is that the rock is black and metalic looking. He can say that "the rock is black and metalic", offered as a 'fact', and be incorrect in his assumption of universality of 'his' Perspective.
The side of the rock facing me is porous and stony looking. I can offer my "The rock is..." description as a 'fact', also. From the Perspective perceiving the other side, his 'fact' is just as valid as mine. Do we argue who is 'correct', or do we examine both 'facts' and imagine new, synthesized 'facts'. Or do we modify our 'fact' statement to coincide better with existence as we presently understand it and say, "at this moment in time, from this Perspective, under these light conditions, considering my visual limitations, etc... the portion of the rock that I perceive, at the moment, appears to be porous and stony and black...
Direct perception of the evidence is not equal to our thoughts about it (from whence come 'facts').

Quote:
We build our life on the security that 1+1=2.

YES! Security is so much more important to many, than 'truth/reality'. There is no 'security' in life! We can drop dead any moment, Now! or Now! or now!!! No security, no stability... but truly understanding this would leave most screaming in the darkness! Man is not a rational creature. So we play make believe. Make believe we have 'free-will/choice' so we can feel godlike; in 'control', 'secure', 'stable'. A 'need' is supplied.
"To escape one's illusions is to plunge headlong into chaos!" -Iota

The term 'fact' is obsolete. Language (like our world-view) transforms in accord with understanding.

You can say; 1+1=2 under such and such conditions, from such and such a Perspective, under such and such constraints, in such and such a context, at such and such a time...
Then would it be a 'fact'? Nope! Far from 'universal'! Which is the assumption of the meaning of a 'fact'.
 
xris
 
Reply Sat 28 Mar, 2009 06:46 am
@nameless,
nameless wrote:
Nope. The 'evidence' is a rock on the table that we are looking at from different sides. A 'fact' (is composed of our thoughts about that evidence) to the person on the side opposite me, is that the rock is black and metalic looking. He can say that "the rock is black and metalic", offered as a 'fact', and be incorrect in his assumption of universality of 'his' Perspective.
The side of the rock facing me is porous and stony looking. I can offer my "The rock is..." description as a 'fact', also. From the Perspective perceiving the other side, his 'fact' is just as valid as mine. Do we argue who is 'correct', or do we examine both 'facts' and imagine new, synthesized 'facts'. Or do we modify our 'fact' statement to coincide better with existence as we presently understand it and say, "at this moment in time, from this Perspective, under these light conditions, considering my visual limitations, etc... the portion of the rock that I perceive, at the moment, appears to be porous and stony and black...
Direct perception of the evidence is not equal to our thoughts about it (from whence come 'facts').


YES! Security is so much more important to many, than 'truth/reality'. There is no 'security' in life! We can drop dead any moment, Now! or Now! or now!!! No security, no stability... but truly understanding this would leave most screaming in the darkness! Man is not a rational creature. So we play make believe. Make believe we have 'free-will/choice' so we can feel godlike; in 'control', 'secure', 'stable'. A 'need' is supplied.
"To escape one's illusions is to plunge headlong into chaos!" -Iota

The term 'fact' is obsolete. Language (like our world-view) transforms in accord with understanding.

You can say; 1+1=2 under such and such conditions, from such and such a Perspective, under such and such constraints, in such and such a context, at such and such a time...
Then would it be a 'fact'? Nope! Far from 'universal'! Which is the assumption of the meaning of a 'fact'.
A very selective and vague reply but you have not answered my questions.Ill ask again what is the difference between evidence and facts?
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Sat 28 Mar, 2009 04:04 pm
@nerdfiles,
Evidence typically supports facts, but evidence can be facts and facts can be evidence. These are not two mutually exclusive terms. Evidence is a term usually used in an investigation of some sorts (e.g. academic, legal, scientific), but facts do not require an investigation, rather they are really just truth assertions made by subjects.

nameless wrote:
The term 'fact' is obsolete. Language (like our world-view) transforms in accord with understanding.


The term fact is not obsolete, but instead people make more out of the term than what is necessary, thus, the term is ambiguous, and the reason why people tend to make too much of a fuss about the definition of the word.
 
nameless
 
Reply Sun 29 Mar, 2009 04:31 am
@xris,
xris;55504 wrote:
A very selective and vague reply but you have not answered my questions.Ill ask again what is the difference between evidence and facts?

You aren't trying very hard, are you? Understanding what I am saying does not mean that you must accept or believe or assimilate it.

evidence (from the Perspective of logic);
Support for a proposition, especially that derived from empirical observation or experience

'Facts' (for an individual) are 'beliefs' in the most personally appealing 'evidence'.
QM has demonstrated, if anything, that there is no such thing as 'certainty/fact'. Its a matter of probabilities, contexts, timing...

On 'certainty/facts', for your reading pleasure;

The Certainty Bias: A Potentially Dangerous Mental Flaw

From Scientific American magazine;


A neurologist explains why you shouldn't believe in political candidates that sound too sure of themselves.

Robert Burton is the former chief of neurology at the University of California at San Francisco-Mt. Zion hospital. He recently wrote a book, On Being Certain, that explored the neuroscience behind the feeling of certainty, or why we are so convinced we’re right even when we’re wrong. He and Jonah Lehrer, the editor of Mind Matters, discussed the science of certainty.

LEHRER: What first got you interested in studying the mental state of certainty?

BURTON: A personal confession: I have always been puzzled by those who seem utterly confident in their knowledge. Perhaps this is a constitutional defect on my part, but I seldom have the sense of knowing unequivocally that I am right. Consequently I have looked upon those who ooze self-confidence and certainty with a combination of envy and suspicion. At a professional level, I have long wondered why so many physicians will recommend unproven, even risky therapies simply because they "know" that these treatments work.

It is easy to be cynical and suspect the worst of motives, from greed to ignorance, but I have known many first-rate, highly concerned and seemingly well motivated physicians who, nevertheless, operate based upon gut feelings and personal beliefs even in the face of contrary scientific evidence. After years of rumination, it gradually dawned on me that there may be an underlying biological component to such behavior.

It is quite likely that the same reward system provides the positive feedback necessary for us to learn and to continue wanting to learn. The pleasure of a thought is what propels us forward; imagine trying to write a novel or engage in a long-term scientific experiment without getting such rewards. Fortunately, the brain has provided us with a wide variety of subjective feelings of reward ranging from hunches, gut feelings, intuitions, suspicions that we are on the right track to a profound sense of certainty and utter conviction. And yes, these feelings are qualitatively as powerful as those involved in sex and gambling. One need only look at the self-satisfied smugness of a "know it all" to suspect that the feeling of certainty can approach the power of addiction.

LEHRER: To what extent do these mechanisms come into play during a presidential election? It seems like we all turn into such partisan hacks every four years, completely certain that our side is right.

BURTON: The present presidential debates and associated media commentary feel like laboratory confirmation that the involuntary feeling of certainty plays a greater role in decision-making than conscious contemplation and reason.

I suspect that retreat into absolute ideologies is accentuated during periods of confusion, lack of governmental direction, economic chaos and information overload. At bottom, we are pattern recognizers who seek escape from ambiguity and indecision. If a major brain function is to maintain mental homeostasis, it is understandable how stances of certainty can counteract anxiety and apprehension. Even though I know better, I find myself somewhat reassured (albeit temporarily) by absolute comments such as, "the stock market always recovers," even when I realize that this may be only wishful thinking.

Sadly, my cynical side also suspects that political advisors use this knowledge of the biology of certainty to actively manipulate public opinion. Nuance is abandoned in favor of absolutes.

LEHRER: How can people avoid the certainty bias?

BURTON: I don't believe that we can avoid certainty bias, but we can mitigate its effect by becoming aware of how our mind assesses itself. As you may know from my book, I've taken strong exception to the popular notion that we can rely upon hunches and gut feelings as though they reflect the accuracy of a thought.

My hope is the converse; we need to recognize that the feelings of certainty and conviction are involuntary mental sensations, not logical conclusions. Intuitions, gut feelings and hunches are neither right nor wrong but tentative ideas that must then be submitted to empirical testing. If such testing isn't possible (such as in deciding whether or not to pull out of Iraq), then we must accept that any absolute stance is merely a personal vision, not a statement of fact.

Perhaps one of my favorite examples of how certainty is often misleading is the great mathematician Srinivasava Ramanujan. At his death, his notebook was filled with theorems that he was certain were correct. Some were subsequently proven correct; others turned out to be dead wrong. Ramanujan’s lines of reasoning lead to correct and incorrect answers, but he couldn’t tell the difference. Only the resultant theorems were testable.

In short, please run, do not walk, to the nearest exit when you hear so-called leaders being certain of any particular policy. Only in the absence of certainty can we have open-mindedness, mental flexibility and willingness to contemplate alternative ideas.

LEHRER: In your book, you compare the "feeling of certainty" that accompanies things such as religious fundamentalism to the feeling that occurs when we have a word on the-tip-of-our-tongue. Could you explain?

BURTON: There are two separate aspects of a thought, namely the actual thought, and an independent involuntary assessment of the accuracy of that thought.

To get a feeling for this separation, look at the Muller-Lyer optical illusion.

(Two horizontal parallel lines (the bottom a bit heavier?).
At each end of the lines is a forking (slingshot like, maybe 1/6th the length of the line). The forks on the upper line pointing back inwards with the forks on the lower pointing outwards.)

Even when we consciously know and can accurately determine that these two horizontal lines are the same length, we experience the simultaneous disquieting sensation that this thought—the lines are of equal length—is not correct. This isn't a feeling that we can easily overcome through logic and reason; it simply happens to us.

This sensation is a manifestation of a separate category of mental activity—-unconscious calculations as to the accuracy of any given thought. On the positive side, such feelings can vary from a modest sense of being right, such as understanding that Christmas falls on December 25, to a profound a-ha, "Eureka" or sense of a spiritual epiphany. William James referred to the latter—the mystical experience—as "felt knowledge," a mental sensation that isn't a thought, but feels like a thought.

Once we realize that the brain has very powerful inbuilt involuntary mechanisms for assessing unconscious cognitive activity, it is easy to see how it can send into consciousness a message that we know something that we can't presently recall—the modest tip-of-the-tongue feeling. At the other end of the spectrum would be the profound "feeling of knowing" that accompanies unconsciously held beliefs—a major component of the unshakeable attachment to fundamentalist beliefs—both religious and otherwise—such as belief in UFOs or false memories.

LEHRER: Why do you think that the feeling of certainty feels so good?

BURTON: Stick brain electrodes in rat pleasure centers (the mesolimbic dopamine system primarily located in the upper brain stem). The rats continuously press the bar, to the exclusion of food and water, until they drop. In humans the same areas are activated with cocaine, amphetamines, alcohol, nicotine and gambling—to mention just a few behaviors to which one can become easily addicted.

****************
For what it's worth.
 
xris
 
Reply Sun 29 Mar, 2009 05:17 am
@nameless,
A very long rambling reply hoping it will delay the real question being asked. What is the difference between evidence and facts?.To examine facts we use other facts..EVIDENCE...we must always accept the criteria we are using as being scrutinised by known facts.To say that 1+1=2 does not always occur then there must be other facts to explain why that occurs.We dont say two drops of water make one we say one litre added to another makes two.There is always another fact to consider when making a factual statement, if you make a false statement of fact then it is your error not the term FACT...
 
hammersklavier
 
Reply Mon 30 Mar, 2009 03:30 pm
@nerdfiles,
nerdfiles wrote:
A state of affairs which obtains; a thing which can be true and is true.

So, "the cat is on the mat" (perceptual); "Bob is in my house" (spatial); "It is 9 o'clock" (temporal); "Susan committed adultery" (legal fact); "Kevin is morally virtuous" (sociological descriptive fact masked in moral language).

So your definition of a fact is that (Pex & Aex) -> Fex, or that the possibility of existence of X and the actuality of existence of X causes the factual existence of X, such that the statement X is a fact?
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Tue 31 Mar, 2009 03:02 am
@hammersklavier,
Hey people,

In a recent thread on both this forum as well as a scientific forum I was shot down in the flames of angry responses for suggesting that "there might be", on circumstantial evidence, an Intelligent Designer created the universe.

I admit the evidence I gave such as the precise fundamental constants suggested some intelligent mind, balancing and sustaining the universe

But of course I could not move my position to that of absolute fact

But then again , what is real? what is fact?, even the colors we look at are illusions

We all look at reality as through a really dark glass don't we?
 
 

 
Copyright © 2020 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.02 seconds on 08/13/2020 at 06:42:12