What is the difference between Fact and Truth?

  • I'm curious about the difference between Fact and Truth. I was searching on the internet if I could find it. But still I'm confused about the exact meaning.

    I first read the forum discussion here Fact and Truth where an author has given two examples for each like below

    A fact is a reality that cannot be logically disputed or rejected. If I say "fire is hot," I don't care how great your reasoning skills are, if you touch fire your skin will burn (and don't give me that "but people can walk on hot coals!" bull. There's a difference between the transfer of heat through conduction and training one's body to deal with the agonizing pain of said conduction). Now when I say this, I am not speaking a truth, I am speaking a fact. If you say "fire is not hot," you are not lying, you are incorrect. Facts are concrete realities that no amount of reasoning will change. When one acknowledges a fact, they are doing just that. Facts are not discovered, facts are not created, facts are simply acknowledged.

    A truth on the other hand, is almost the opposite. Truths are those things that are not simply acknowledged, but must be discovered, or created. If I say "God exists," and I possess strong reasoning for the affirmative of that statement, then God really does exist, that is a reality. However, if another individual possesses strong reasoning for the negative, and because of this reasoning they believe that God does not exist, then that is also a reality. If we were to debate our ideologies, and my reasoning appeared stronger than theirs, they may choose to adopt my belief that God does exist. If they do, then the existence of God is just as true as the nonexistence of God which they believed a week ago. Truths, as opposed to fact, are much more fluid and malleable than their empirical counterparts.

    and followed by further discussion.

    Then I found this Reference.
    Article from above link says like below:

    Facts are notes and lyrics on sheet music. Truth is what the singer gives to the listener when she’s brave enough to open up and sing from her heart.

    But still curious about the difference between both of them.

    In our daily life, in general conversation, we generally use these both terms interchangeably. Then what is the difference? Are they synonym or have specific difference?

    Two thoughts: (1) I don't understand the second quote, (2) the author of the first quote is describing, admittedly in an imprecise way, the usual _analytic/synthetic_ distinction, where she/he is calling synthetic truths "facts" and analytic truths "truths". It's a pretty standard way of thinking about the distinction.

    @HunanRostomyan, I was first thought that analytic thinking is used for Facts. But now how to understand analytic/synthetic distinction? and as per you suggestion, I have also added logic tag :)

    Following Carnap, I take analytic/synthetic to be notions relative to a _language system_ (aka 'logic') and a set (actually a conjunction) of sentences he calls _meaning postulates_ (aka 'definitions'/'conventions'). Sentence S is called analytic in language system L with respect to meaning postulates P if and only if when the logical vocabulary of L is interpreted, S becomes a logical consequence of P. For example: the sentence 'if John is a bachelor then John is unmarried' is analytic in FOL with respect to meaning postulate 'for all x, if x is a bachelor then x is not married'.

    I'm used to hearing "fact" be used to describe any true proposition.

    @Dennis, then what can we use for "truth"?

    @Dennis Truths describe facts. The proposition itself can be true, but the thing it describes is usually a fact.

    @KenB My memory is clearly hazy, thanks for the refresher. For others, you might check here SEP entry on Facts.

    The sun rises in the East - This statement is a FACT. However, if you still dwell on the subject, this is only a perception but Sun remains in a statutory position and it is globe that is rotating to give us the feeling that the sun is rising in the East. This is the Truth. Similarly what is the difference between bargaining and negotiation ?

    Fact is a literal reality. Truth is the experience of reality.

    Perhaps your question is too vague. In science truth means something different than philosophy. Usually in philosophy to say something is true is to say it is objectively true or it is corresponding truth. All truths are NOT the same. There are distinct TYPES of truth. Some truths are temporal while others are forever true. Facts express something always true & impossible to be false. The definition is not subject to opinion or belief. Which type of truth were you asking about?

    Reality is a continuous set of physical sensations. Truth is a mathematical mapping between abstractions. Truth about reality AKA facts are sets of abstractions that mathematically map to physical sensations through a mathematical model of the world.

    Simply put: truth is telling it like it is.

    The 1st discussion is okay, not great. The 2nd is just artsy fartsy mumbo jumbo. The definition of Truth in the first discussion is one of many different definitions for Truth in philosophy, and it's not one I care for (the idea that truths can be created treats truths like simple propositions which may or may not be true ...the idea of a truth that is not true does not sit well with me). I prefer to use the philosophical term of truthbearers when referring to any claim, belief, theory, etc about reality. Truths do describe reality (as do untrue beliefs, etc) and reality is made of facts.

  • Lukas

    Lukas Correct answer

    8 years ago

    The quote about facts gets it pretty right. A fact is, for many philosophers, a part of reality (Russel, for example). So as there are people and tables and chairs in our world, there is also the fact that I am sitting on the chair. It is as real as the chair itself. You often see some kind of brackets when someone speaks about fact, so for example: < I am sitting on a chair> converts to "The fact that I am sitting on a chair".

    Truth is a property of sentences, propositions, utterances, whatever you like. Facts can therefore not be true, in the same way as a chair cannot be true. Stating a fact, however, and depending on your opinion, has a truthvalue.

    I think the second quote about truth is a bit problematic. It sounds as if good arguments alter reality. But arguments cannot be true, they can be valid, and they can be truthconserving. So if I have an argument for the existence of god, it is at best valid. That does not mean, however, that suddenly, in virtue of the good argument, god came into existence.


    Edit: More on truth

    So on one common view those things that can be true are propositions. So a meaningful exression would be: The proposition that snow is white is true.

    If you believe that sentences are the things that can be true, then this would be an example: The sentence "Grass is green" is true.

    Most people believe that facts cannot be true: They think that "(The fact that grass is green) is true" is a weird thing to say. (I use brackets to make clear that the predicate "is true" refers to the fact. Because otherwise there could be a second reading about the (fact that grass is green is true), if there is such a fact)

    To conclude:(i) There is the fact that grass is green, and (ii) the proposition that grass is green is true.

    Also it is worth pointing out that there are philosophers who say that there are no facts, because facts are weird ontological things and maybe you can do without them. So this is just one way to answer this question.

    Can you please more elaborate your "chair" example for "Truth"?. I little bit got about the "Fact" for chair but could not understood about "Truth" for given example.

    To reword @Lukas's very valid answer: A chair cannot be "true". "This chair is true" makes no sense. Similarly, it is a fact that I am currently sitting on a chair, and "His act of sitting on that chair is true" makes no sense. Truth doesn't apply to things, actions, or states. Truth is purely a property of *claims*/*assertions*. So a chair can't be true, my act of sitting on the chair can't be true, but the *assertion* "He is sitting on that chair" can be true.

    I fixed the first paragraph, last sentence is now actually understandable (bracketed example were not displayed).

    @Lukas, Can you please still elaborate little more about example of `Truth` with respect to `Fact`? I got an example for `Fact` but still little want to clear about `Truth`. Can you give another example?

    This answer is spot on. All of the other answers (at the time of writing) are completely off and have no support whatsoever in philosophy.

    I would add: There are philosophers who think that there are no truths (or more precisely, that truth isn't *really* a property), because truths are weird ontological things we can probably do without.

    You make no distinction between fact & truth. If your definition is based on science you should at least state that fact. You make no mention that there a distinct TYPES of truth. In science perhaps you think truths are relative. This is not so in philosophy. There are Objective truths which is what philosophy usually refers to but you don't mention it. The truth that Donald Trump is President will not hold forever. So does that claim hold two values true and false? You need to re-evalute your definitions. They fall short.

    This answer wrong on multiple levels. It improperly defines the difference between facts and truth based on the conflation of "a truth" with "true". Truth is not a property. It, like fact, is a noun ... it is a thing (note however that being true, ie. truthiness, is a property). Truths (the noun) are concepts that describe / explain reality, which reality is made of facts (which facts double as truthmakers, or proofs for truths). Another correction: facts can not be "not true". Facts are literally defined as "true propositions" see https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/facts/#FactTrueProp

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM