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# Fact

 Cogito ergo sumLogic and rhetoric Key articles General logic Bad logic v - t - e

A fact is a true statement about a state of affairs that has been obtained in the world. Facts are contingent: they depend for their truth on what has actually occurred, as opposed to what is possible. Facts make claims that are, in general, independent from our theory. However, human understanding of facts is dependent on our theory: theory laden.

For instance, the fact 'the sun is a star' is independent from theory: theory has no effect on the state of affairs that led to the sun being a star. Understanding this 'fact' requires theory, i.e. we need a theory of the: sun, stars, language, etc.

In summation, knowledge and beliefs are revisable; facts aren't.

## The factual/counterfactual distinction

Language allows for claims employing different kinds of conditional (if... then) statements. Conditional statements made in the indicative mood make factual claims about the actual world. In contrast, conditional statements in the subjunctive mood make counterfactual claims about other possible worlds, where the facts are different than in the actual world. Compare:

## Examples of fact

The following statements are true:

• 2+2=4
• 9+10≠21

### Pseudo-facts from social constructionism

• "The Sky is Blue" (or Cyan to be more precise) (or Violet, but our eyes perceive it as blue[1])

## Other uses

### In Logic

The state of affairs a well-formed formula denotes.

### As a fallacy

Conspiracy theorists and other alt-right grifters might use "fact" in a fallacious manner. The most well-known example among them is Ben Shapiro, who once said in a debate "Facts don't care about your feelings", completely failing to realize that he and his fellow conservatives are the ones who prioritize their feelings over facts.

• Also, Shapiro commits the 'anti-naturalistic fallacy': he fails to acknowledge that values can influence facts, and feelings significantly affect values.
• Thus, Shapiro is 'begging the question', since he assumes the 'fact/value' distinction as one of his premises, in order to infer the conclusion that asserts 'said' distinction.
• "Facts don't care" presupposes the fact/value distinction; Shapiro intentionally uses this rhetoric to make it seem like facts are deliberately indifferent to feelings. However, this anthropomorphises facts, since 'not-caring' presupposes the ability to care, which facts don't have, by definition.
• Shapiro commits the 'moralistic fallacy': He is not entitled to inferring the factual conclusion "Facts don't care about your feelings", based on a set of assumptions that are evaluative, e.g. assumptions about 'caring', 'feelings', etc.

#### Factualism

The fallacy of 'factualism' occurs when someone inappropriately and excessively relies on facts in an argument i.e. to the detriment of values, possibilities, and beliefs (which are more obviously subject to revision and doubt). For example, over-attention to actual historical languages such as English, to the detriment of possible constructed-languages such as Esperanto. More generally, the neglect of what Carnap called "General Syntax": the study of languages (artificial and natural), in their most general form i.e. not just looking at the historical features of languages, but also, those general features that would make any language possible, period.

#### As a Rhetorical Device

However, the sentence became less and less effective as a rhetorical device since it started to be viewed as nothing more than a meme and a buzzword. But because it worked once, he tried that at each upcoming debate afterward.

### In science

"Settled Science": once most scientists universally agree on a statement, it becomes a fact. The knowledge and beliefs of the scientists can change; the facts don't. Scientists may change their minds about the knowledge, beliefs, and truth that made up their theories, and thus, what changes is the theory, not the facts. When scientists revise their work, they would say "we thought it was true but it never was"; they wouldn't say "the facts were never true to begin with".

To determine whether a statement is true or false, scientists use the scientific method.

### In philosophy

In Philosophy, a fact is a statement that is understood as truthful if the state of affairs allows it. Facts can also be information about those things to which a truthful statement refers.

It questions objectivity.

## Personal "facts"

A person may have distorted views of the real world due to beliefs, either mental or physical ailments (such as color-blindness), or other factors. Those "facts" are not viewed as facts since only a limited amount of people consider them to be true.

A person who is color-blind will never see the sky in the color blue; it is either completely gray or slightly green to them.[note 1][note 2][note 3]

It is worth noting here that there is a common cognitive distortion called "emotional reasoning", whereby feelings are perceived as facts. They are not![note 4]

## Facts vs. concepts

Since facts are generally bound by pre-defined concepts such as color and the name given to those colors, or the worth of an item (say, gold, for example), then it sometimes becomes more complex to define whether a statement is true or false.

An example of that issue would be concerning tomatoes. Based on the definition of 'fruit' or 'vegetable', this made it difficult for people to tell whether tomatoes are a fruit or a vegetable. Another such example that is more complex would be maize. No one has ever managed to say for certain whether maize was a fruit, a vegetable, a grain, or a grass.