Monday, January 4, 2016

More quotations about facts

(Part I from last May)

G. E. Moore (1953): '"Facts" is a very ambiguous word, although it is so constantly used as if it were clear.' (Some Main Problems of Philosophy, p. 306)

Henry Philip Tappan (1844): 'By fact, we mean phenomena, — something which we know by observation merely. Facts are of two kinds: 1. Facts of the Senses, or external observation. 2. Facts of the Consciousness, or internal observation.' (Elements of Logic, p. 427)

William James (1907): 'The facts themselves meanwhile are not true. They simply are.' (Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking. Lecture VI. Pragmatism's Conception of Truth)

W. R. Dennes (1932): 'Facts are events. ... [T]he facts propositions report are qualified and related events which occur and cease but are not true or false.' ('Fact and Interpretation', Studies in the Nature of Facts, vol. 14 of the University of California Publications in Philosophy [Berkeley: University of California Press]: 98)

L. Susan Stebbing (1930): 'A fact is not an event. ... A fact is anything that is the case. ... Facts simply are; they are neither true nor false. Only propositions can be true, or can be false.' (Modern Introduction to Logic, p. 36)

Talcott Parsons (1949): 'A fact is not itself a phenomenon at all, but a proposition about one or more phenomena.' (Structure of Social Action, Part 1, ch. 1, p. 41)

Henry S. Leonard (1957): 'Propositions, or states of affairs, are either true or false. If a proposition is true, it is called a fact. If it is false, it is said not to be a fact. Thus, facts are true propositions.' (Principles of Reasoning: an Introduction to Logic, Methodology, and the Theory of Signs, p. 47)

Bernard Bosanquet (1885):
English custom has always recognized 'fact' as to some extent a middle term between Thing or reality, and the knowledge which is in our heads. Fact is always conceived as relative to knowledge, whereas thing and reality rather imply independence of knowledge. ... [W]e regard fact as belonging, no doubt, to reality, but as existing for us by construction and especially by abstraction, as the embodiment of it in judgments conclusively shows. I have little doubt that most men would unhesitatingly affirm the existence of things apart from percipient intelligence, but if asked the same question about facts they would be puzzled and would probably decide in the negative. Unknown facts, although a simple process of reflection forces the notion of them on the mind, are felt to be a troublesome conception. Thus I think that common-sense recognizes the true nature of that (viz., fact) on which it chiefly relies, far more correctly than we admit if we confuse fact with thing and reality, or on the other hand with the unformed datum of sense. (Knowledge and Reality, pp. 45-6; [Emphasis added])
Sven Edvard Rodhe (1939): 'The view that the truth of a judgment lies in its correspondence with a fact meets with the difficulty that a fact qua such and nothing else cannot be conceived as given otherwise than in judgments. We never attain to more direct contact with facts than in our judgments, and, unless mutually contradictory judgments are accepted as equally true, the correspondence of the judgment with fact can only be interpreted as its agreement with other judgments. The demand for accordance between judgment and fact is a demand for accordance between judgments, since the answer to the demand for fact is no fact but judgments.' ('Correspondence and Coherence', Theoria [Jan., 1939]: 23)

W. V. Quine (1987): 'Or perhaps we settle for a correspondence of whole sentences with facts: a sentence is true if it reports a fact. But here again we have fabricated substance for an empty doctrine. The world is full of things, variously related, but what, in addition to all that, are facts? They are projected from true sentences for the sake of correspondence.' (Quiddities, p. 213)

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