What is a fact? What kind of object, if it is indeed such a thing, is it? I have read a lot of stuff that say "it is a fact that... ", but I have never seen a definition of fact or what kind of thing a fact is.

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    What have you tried? -- googling "definition of fact" yields dictionary definitions; googling "definition of fact philosophy" yields the SEP article. – Dave Nov 2 '15 at 13:36
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    I vote for "leave open" because I consider the post a genuine philosophical question from ontology. Several answers are possible, and it is difficult to argue in favour of each. – Jo Wehler Nov 2 '15 at 19:53
  • @JoWehler if a large number of answers are possible then it is too broad and/or it is not clear what the OP's exact question is. – Dave Nov 2 '15 at 20:25
  • @Dave In my opinion: The question is clearly and simply stated. That so many answers are possible is part of the problem touched by this interesting question. – Jo Wehler Nov 2 '15 at 20:28
  • While clearly and concisely stated, an answer would be massive. There are many different schools of thought about what is a fact, how one would know a fact, etc. Also, not a philosophy issue, but pretty sure "It is a fact that..." is contraindicated by Strunk and White as poor style. That structure is usually used to say that something is not merely an opinion, but is often used to prefix something that is, in fact, an opinion. – James Kingsbery Nov 3 '15 at 18:41

I would look at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Facts: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/facts/. There are lots of articles and monographs in recent metaphysics (and in work on Russell, Ramsey, Wittgenstein, etc.) that focus on this topic, and some important ones show up in the bibliography.

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One possible approach to the philosophical term fact is Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. It begins:

  1. The world is all that is the case.

1.1 The world is the totality of facts, not of things.

1.11 The world is determined by the facts, and by their being all the facts.

1.12 For the totality of facts determines what is the case, and also whatever is not the case.

1.13 The facts in logical space are the world.

1.2 The world divides into facts.

Wittgenstein does not give a definition of the term fact. But one can try to derive the meaning of the different terms: Proposition 1.1 states that the basic entities in his ontology are not single things but relations between things, which he calls facts. Considered this way, Wittgenstein takes thing as an undefined basic notion and uses it to define the term fact.

If one calls a possible relation a circumstance (= Sachverhalt, in German), then a fact is a real circumstance (= Tatsache, in German). Hence the real world is singled out from all possible worlds by those circumstances which are facts.

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I think the most simple answer would be 'an event or occurrence which most people will never argue about'. Like the sky being blue, or a person with a penis being a man and a person with breasts being a woman, cars being able to drive faster then me on my bike etc.

I would say undisputed facts, but that's never really true because it's everyone's right to disagree and see things differently. And sure, the sky is never always blue, a person with a penis can be a woman and there are cars slower then me on my bike.

But that's the clue, everything is relative. So are facts. Facts can change. For now it's a fact the sun comes up every morning, it will remain a fact until it just doesn't. The same with the black swan; to prove there are only white swans in this world, you need to find a black one.

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    First off, welcome to philosophy.SE. You may want to look at the help center. As written, this answer doesn't seem to be philosophically informed... – virmaior Nov 2 '15 at 7:35
  • Hi, thanks. I think I'm missing something, I read the help-topics, and I fail to see how my answer wouldn't be philosophically informed? As far as I'm concerned, philosophy is a personal matter to everyone, and we gain more knowledge of it by sharing how others see things. Or is it some rule of style that all answers are bound by the things well known philosophers said? – Alex Timmer Nov 2 '15 at 10:13
  • For an example the sky is not always blue but can appear red, and the night it is black. There are man that can have breasts due to hormone imbalances. A fact is something indisputable like the form of the earth or that blood circulation is necessary for mammals. – John Am Nov 2 '15 at 12:37
  • Fact is a word with a formal definition in philosophy... (@AlexTimmer please see this page: philosophy.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic ). Are you sure your answer makes sense given that definition of the scope? – virmaior Nov 2 '15 at 13:52

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