digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















For other uses, see Fact (disambiguation).

A fact (derived from the Latin factum, see below) is something that has really occurred or is actually the case. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability, that is, whether it can be demonstrated to correspond to experience. Standard reference works are often used to check facts. Scientific facts are verified by repeatable experiments.

Etymology and usage[edit]

The word fact derives from the Latin factum, and was first used in English with the same meaning: "a thing done or performed", a use that is now obsolete.[1] The common usage of "something that has really occurred or is the case" dates from the middle of the sixteenth century.[2]

Fact is sometimes used synonymously with truth, as distinct from opinions, falsehoods, or matters of taste. This use is found in such phrases as, It is a fact that the cup is blue or Matter of fact,[3] and "... not history, nor fact, but imagination." Filmmaker Werner Herzog distinguishes clearly between the two, claiming that "fact creates norms, and truth illumination".[4]

Fact also indicates a matter under discussion deemed to be true or correct, such as to emphasize a point or prove a disputed issue; (e.g., "... the fact of the matter is ...").[5][6]

Alternatively, fact may also indicate an allegation or stipulation of something that may or may not be a "true fact",[7] (e.g., "the author's facts are not trustworthy"). This alternate usage, although contested by some, has a long history in standard English.[8]

Fact may also indicate findings derived through a process of evaluation, including review of testimony, direct observation, or otherwise; as distinguishable from matters of inference or speculation.[9] This use is reflected in the terms "fact-find" and "fact-finder" (e.g., "set up a fact-finding commission").[10]

Facts may be checked by reason, experiment, personal experience, or may be argued from authority. Roger Bacon wrote "If in other sciences we should arrive at certainty without doubt and truth without error, it behooves us to place the foundations of knowledge in mathematics."[11]

Fact in philosophy[edit]

In philosophy, the concept fact is considered in epistemology and ontology. Questions of objectivity and truth are closely associated with questions of fact. A "fact" can be defined as something which is the case, that is, a state of affairs.[12][13]

Facts may be understood as that which makes a true sentence true.[14] Facts may also be understood as those things to which a true sentence refers. The statement "Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system" is about the fact Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system.[15]

Correspondence and the slingshot argument[edit]

Engel's version of the correspondence theory of truth explains that what makes a sentence true is that it corresponds to a fact.[16] This theory presupposes the existence of an objective world.

The Slingshot argument claims to show that all true statements stand for the same thing - the truth value true. If this argument holds, and facts are taken to be what true statements stand for, then we reach the counter-intuitive conclusion that there is only one fact - "the truth".[17]

Compound facts[edit]

Any non-trivial true statement about reality is necessarily an abstraction composed of a complex of objects and properties or relations.[18] For example, the fact described by the true statement "Paris is the capital city of France" implies that there is such a place as Paris, there is such a place as France, there are such things as capital cities, as well as that France has a government, that the government of France has the power to define its capital city, and that the French government has chosen Paris to be the capital, that there is such a thing as a "place" or a "government", and so on. The verifiable accuracy of all of these assertions, if facts themselves, may coincide to create the fact that Paris is the capital of France.

Difficulties arise, however, in attempting to identify the constituent parts of negative, modal, disjunctive, or moral facts.[19]

Fact–value distinction[edit]

Moral philosophers since David Hume have debated whether values are objective, and thus factual. In A Treatise of Human Nature Hume pointed out there is no obvious way for a series of statements about what ought to be the case to be derived from a series of statements of what is the case. Those who insist there is a logical gulf between facts and values, such that it is fallacious to attempt to derive values from facts, include G. E. Moore, who called attempting to do so the Naturalistic fallacy.

Factual–counterfactual distinction[edit]

Factuality — what has occurred — can also be contrasted with counterfactuality — what might have occurred, but did not. A counterfactual conditional or subjunctive conditional is a conditional (or "if-then") statement indicating what would be the case if events had been other than they actually are. For example, "If Alexander had lived, his empire would have been greater than Rome". This is to be contrasted with an indicative conditional, which indicates what is (in fact) the case if its antecedent is (in fact) true — for example, "if you drink this, it will make you well".

Such sentences are important to Modal logic, especially since the development of Possible world semantics.

Fact in science[edit]

Further information: scientific method and philosophy of science

In science, a "fact" is a careful observation or measurement, also called empirical evidence. Facts are central to building scientific theories. Various forms of observation and measurement lead to fundamental questions about the scientific method, and the scope and validity of scientific reasoning.

In the most basic sense, a scientific fact is an objective and verifiable observation, in contrast with a hypothesis or theory, which is intended to explain or interpret facts.[20]

Various scholars have offered significant refinements to this basic formulation. Scientists are careful to distinguish between: 1) states of affairs in the external world and 2) assertions of fact that may be considered relevant in scientific analysis. The term is used in both senses in the philosophy of science.[21]

Scholars and clinical researchers in both the social and natural sciences have written about numerous questions and theories that arise in the attempt to clarify the fundamental nature of scientific fact.[22] Pertinent issues raised by this inquiry include:

  • the process by which "established fact" becomes recognized and accepted as such;[23]
  • whether and to what extent "fact" and "theoretic explanation" can be considered truly independent and separable from one another;[24][25]
  • to what extent "facts" are influenced by the mere act of observation;[25] and
  • to what extent factual conclusions are influenced by history and consensus, rather than a strictly systematic methodology.[26]

Consistent with the theory of confirmation holism, some scholars assert "fact" to be necessarily "theory-laden" to some degree. Thomas Kuhn points out that knowing what facts to measure, and how to measure them, requires the use of other theories. For example, the age of fossils is based on radiometric dating which is justified by reasoning that radioactive decay follows a Poisson process rather than a Bernoulli process. Similarly, Percy Williams Bridgman is credited with the methodological position known as operationalism, which asserts that all observations are not only influenced, but necessarily defined by the means and assumptions used to measure them.

Fact and the scientific method[edit]

Apart from the fundamental inquiry into the nature of scientific fact, there remain the practical and social considerations of how fact is investigated, established, and substantiated through the proper application of the scientific method.[27] Scientific facts are generally believed to be independent of the observer: no matter who performs a scientific experiment, all observers will agree on the outcome.[28] In addition to these considerations, there are the social and institutional measures, such as peer review and accreditation, that are intended to promote factual accuracy (among other interests) in scientific study.[29]

Fact in history[edit]

Further information: Historiography

A common rhetorical cliché states, "History is written by the winners". This phrase suggests but does not examine the use of facts in the writing of history.

E. H. Carr in his 1961 volume, What is History?, argues that the inherent biases from the gathering of facts makes the objective truth of any historical perspective idealistic and impossible. Facts are, "like fish in the Ocean," of which we may only happen to catch a few, only an indication of what is below the surface. Even a dragnet cannot tell us for certain what it would be like to live below the Ocean's surface. Even if we do not discard any facts (or fish) presented, we will always miss the majority; the site of our fishing, the methods undertaken, the weather and even luck play a vital role in what we will catch. Additionally, the composition of history is inevitably made up by the compilation of many different biases of fact finding - all compounded over time. He concludes that for a historian to attempt a more objective method, one must accept that history can only aspire to a conversation of the present with the past - and that one's methods of fact gathering should be openly examined. Historical truth and facts will therefore change over time and reflect only the present consensus (if that).

Fact in law[edit]

Further information: Evidence (law) and Trier of fact

In most common law jurisdictions,[30] the general concept and analysis of fact reflects fundamental principles of jurisprudence, and is supported by several well-established standards.[31][32] Matters of fact have various formal definitions under common law jurisdictions.

These include:

  • an element required in legal pleadings to demonstrate a cause of action;[33][34]
  • the determinations of the finder of fact after evaluating admissible evidence produced in a trial or hearing;[35]
  • a potential ground of reversible error forwarded on appeal in an appellate court;[36] and
  • any of various matters subject to investigation by official authority to establish whether a crime has been perpetrated, and to establish culpability.[37]

Legal pleadings[edit]

Main article: Pleading

A party to a civil suit generally must clearly state all relevant allegations of fact upon which a claim is based. The requisite level of precision and particularity of these allegations varies depending on the rules of civil procedure as well as the jurisdiction. Parties who face uncertainties regarding the facts and circumstances attendant to their side in a dispute may sometimes invoke alternative pleading.[38] In this situation, a party may plead separate sets of facts that (when considered together) may be contradictory or mutually exclusive. This (seemingly) logically-inconsistent presentation of facts may be necessary as a safeguard against contingencies (such as res judicata) that would otherwise preclude presenting a claim or defense that depends on a particular interpretation of the underlying facts.[39]

Facts submitted by Amicus Curiae[edit]

The United States Supreme Court receives and often cites 'facts' obtained from amicus briefs in its decisions. That is not supposed to happen, according to Justice Scalia,:[40]

"Supreme Court briefs are an inappropriate place to develop the key facts in a case. We normally give parties more robust protection, leaving important factual questions to district courts and juries aided by expert witnesses and the procedural protections of discovery." [Inadequate scrutiny can result in] “untested judicial fact-finding masquerading as statutory interpretation.”

Nonetheless, 'facts' introduced in amicus briefs are cited in some Supreme Court decisions,[41] bringing up the need to distinguish between real facts and internet facts:[42]

“The Supreme Court has the same problem that the rest of us do: figuring out how to distinguish between real facts and Internet facts”...“Amicus briefs from unreliable sources can contribute to that problem.”

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Fact". OED_2d_Ed_1989, (but note the conventional uses: after the fact and before the fact).
  2. ^ "Fact" (1a). OED_2d_Ed_1989 Joye Exp. Dan. xi. Z vij b, Let emprours and kinges know this godly kynges fact. 1545
  3. ^ "Fact" (4a) OED_2d_Ed_1989
  4. ^ "Werner Herzog Film: Statements / Texts". Wernerherzog.com. 1999-04-30. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  5. ^ "Fact" (6c). OED_2d_Ed_1989
  6. ^ (See also "Matter" (2,6). Compact_OED)
  7. ^ "Fact" (5). OED_2d_Ed_1989
  8. ^ According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, "Fact has a long history of usage in the sense 'allegation'" AHD_4th_Ed. The OED dates this use to 1729.
  9. ^ "Fact" (6a). OED_2d_Ed_1989
  10. ^ "Fact" (8). OED_2d_Ed_1989
  11. ^ Roger Bacon, translated by Robert Burke Opus Majus, Book I, Chapter 2.
  12. ^ "A fact, it might be said, is a state of affairs that is the case or obtains" -- Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. States of Affairs
  13. ^ See Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Proposition 2: What is the case -- a fact -- is the existence of states of affairs.
  14. ^ "A fact is, traditionally, the worldly correlate of a true proposition, a state of affairs whose obtaining makes that proposition true". -- Fact in The Oxford Companion to Philosophy
  15. ^ Alex Oliver, Fact, in Craig, Edward (2005). Shorter Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Routledge, Oxford. ISBN 0-415-32495-5. 
  16. ^ Engel, Pascal (2002). Truth. McGill-Queen's Press- MQUP. ISBN 0-7735-2462-2. 
  17. ^ The argument is presented in many places, but see for example Davidson, Truth and Meaning, in Davidson, Donald (1984). Truth and Interpretation. Clarendon Press, Oxford. ISBN 0-19-824617-X. 
  18. ^ "Facts possess internal structure, being complexes of objects and properties or relations" Oxford Companion to Philosophy
  19. ^ "Fact", in The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, Ted Honderich, editor. (Oxford, 1995) ISBN 0-19-866132-0
  20. ^ Gower, Barry (1997). Scientific Method: A Historical and Philosophical Introduction. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-12282-1. 
  21. ^ Ravetz, Jerome Raymond (1996). Scientific Knowledge and Its Social Problems. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 1-56000-851-2. 
  22. ^ (Gower 1996)
  23. ^ (see e.g., Ravetz, p. 182 fn. 1)
  24. ^ Ravetz, p. 185
  25. ^ a b Gower, p. 138
  26. ^ Gower, p. 7
  27. ^ Ravetz p. 181 et. seq. (Chapter Six: "Facts and their evolution")
  28. ^ Cassell, Eric J. The Nature of Suffering and the Goals of Medicine Oxford University Press. Retrieved 16 May 2007.
  29. ^ (Ravetz 1996)
  30. ^ Ed. note: this section of the article emphasizes common law jurisprudence (as primarily represented in Anglo-American–based legal tradition). Nevertheless, the principles described herein have analogous treatment in other legal systems (such as civil law systems) as well.
  31. ^ Estrich, Willis Albert (1952). American Jurisprudence: A Comprehensive Text Statement of American Case Law. Lawyers Co-operative Publishing Company. 
  32. ^ Elkouri, Frank (2003). How Arbitration Works. BNA Books. ISBN 1-57018-335-X. p. 305
  33. ^ Bishin, William R. (1972). Law Language and Ethics: An Introduction to Law and Legal Method. Foundation Press. Original from the University of Michigan Digitized March 24, 2006. p. 277
  34. ^ The Yale Law Journal: Volume 7. Yale Law Journal Co. 1898. 
  35. ^ Per Lord Shaw of Dunfermline, Clarke v. Edinburgh and District Tramways Co., 1919 S.C.(H.L.) 35, at p 36.
  36. ^ Merrill, John Houston (1895). The American and English Encyclopedia of Law. E. Thompson. Original from Harvard University Digitized April 26, 2007. 
  37. ^ Bennett, Wayne W. (2003). Criminal Investigation. Thomson Wadsworth. ISBN 0-534-61524-4. 
  38. ^ Roy W. McDonald, Alternative Pleading in the United States: I Columbia Law Review, Vol. 52, No. 4 (Apr., 1952), pp. 443-478
  39. ^ (McDonald 1952)
  40. ^ Justice Antonin Scalia (June 9, 2011). "Justice Scalia, dissenting: On writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, No. 09-11311". p. 5. 
  41. ^ Examples are cited by Allison Orr Larsen, posted by Alan Meese (July 30, 2014). "Allison Orr Larsen on Intensely Empirical Amicus Briefs and Amicus Opportunism at the Supreme Court". Bishop Madison: Occasional commentary on political economy and a free society. 
  42. ^ Kannon K. Shanmugam as quoted by Adam Liptak (September 1, 2014). "The dubious sources of some supreme court 'facts'". New York Times (New York Times). 

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fact — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
1000000 videos foundNext > 

Kid History: "Fact!" Episode 4 (True Stories)

Subscribe for new videos: http://bit.ly/1iK5Kqx If our kids wrote our personal history... This is a story about Brett's hard-headedness as a youth. He's abso...

Fact - "A Fact Of Life" [Official Video]

Music video from the band FACT from Japan for their first US single "A Fact Of Life" Purchase on iTunes: http://bit.ly/fPz3sT Purchase on Amazon: http://amzn...


FACT Live at Shibuya O-East (Full Set)

Please, read all the video description. 【DVD】FACT JAPAN TOUR 2010 at Shibuya O-East Official Band's Website: http://factjapan.com/index.html Official Band's ...

Amazing Facts to Blow Your Mind Pt. 1

TWEET IT - http://clicktotweet.com/237l3 Time for some interesting facts to make your head explode! Now you can sound even smarter around your friends with t...

FACT - 'Behind A Smile'

Click here to buy 'In The Blink Of An Eye' from iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/in-the-blink-of-an-eye/id368945135 'Behind A Smile' is taken from t...

FACT - FOSS (Music Video)

New Album『burundanga』2012.01.11 Available!! M.01『FOSS』 Music Video directed by NINO(IKIOI) 既に以前のFACTはここにはいない。 世界中、歴史上、真新しい音という頂を目指し、 変化という名の進化を続けるバンドFACTが放つ ...

FACT - 'Slip Of The Lip'

Click here to buy 'In The Blink Of An Eye' from iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/in-the-blink-of-an-eye/id368945135 New Video for 'Slip Of The Lip',...

6 Awesome PlayStation Facts! -- Fact Surgery

Memory Card should read 1Mb not 1MB.* TWITTER: http://bit.ly/SfQO8X INSTAGRAM: http://www.instagr.am/jakerawr Apollo Guidance Computer: http://goo.gl/8uMFxT...

iPhone 6 Plus Bendgate: Fact or Conspiracy?

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Consumer Reports Lead Electronics Editor Glenn Derene and Gadget Reviewer at Unbox Therapy Lewis Hilsenteger debate their Apple iPhone “bendgate” findings on “Bloomber...

1000000 videos foundNext > 

30086850 news items


Mon, 29 Sep 2014 11:00:00 -0700

AZ Fact Check examined Horne's claim at the time and found it was false. But Brnovich's campaign draws a distinction Horne didn't: Rather than say Rotellini hasn't tried cases in court, Brnovich specifically targets Rotellini's experience withcriminal ...

India Today

Mon, 29 Sep 2014 11:00:00 -0700

iPhone 6 Plus Bendgate: Fact or Conspiracy? REPLAY VIDEO. Your next video will start in. Pause. Recommended Videos. Facebook Share · Tweet · LinkedIn · Google +1. SHARE. Click to email this video: Email. Copy this link and send via email or IM:.
San Jose Mercury News (blog)
Mon, 29 Sep 2014 16:25:35 -0700

I know for a fact everybody loves Harbaugh. “He's a great guy, a great coach. How could you not want to win for a guy that wears cleats during a game? Have you not seen that guy's energy. He's exciting 24/7. You've got to love playing for a guy like that.
Los Angeles Times
Mon, 29 Sep 2014 19:24:55 -0700

Remember back when we were young and naive about the NFL? Like, four weeks ago? The New Orleans Saints were Super Bowl-bound. Green Bay's Eddie Lacy was primed to win the rushing title. And Michael Sam was the biggest issue on the league's ...

Maize n Brew

Maize n Brew
Mon, 29 Sep 2014 08:06:52 -0700

All of the above things were hard to see, but none of it was worse than what was done to Shane Morris after feeling the force of the universe in his face with just over 12 minutes to go in the 4th quarter (we won't even go into the fact that there wasn ...

Viral Global News

Viral Global News
Mon, 29 Sep 2014 16:48:45 -0700

Coffee is not linked to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease: Fact. This has been an issue debated for decades, but studies show that moderate consumption of coffee will not increase your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure or ...
Whitehouse.gov (press release)
Sun, 28 Sep 2014 13:54:59 -0700

Training America's workers with the skills they need for a good job can help middle class families and help American businesses grow our economy. While America's businesses have created 10 million jobs over the past 54 months, the longest streak of ...
Bleacher Report
Mon, 29 Sep 2014 06:56:06 -0700

Week 4 of the NFL season brought with it quite a few upsets and dramatic storylines. Do the New York Jets have to make a move at quarterback? How vital is J.J. Watt to the Houston Texans' success? Watch as Adam Lefkoe goes in-depth with Bleacher ...

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!