5

I have seen a similar question, but I am looking for the distinction between fact and belief, and not knowledge and belief. Also, I do not seek, necessarily, Plato's view.

In order to distinguish fact and belief, I started by the definition of the concepts: first the definition of fact and then belief.

Accordingly to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Facts, philosophers like to say, are opposed to theories and to values (cf. Rundle 1993) and are to be distinguished from things, in particular from complex objects, complexes and wholes, and from relations. They are the objects of certain mental states and acts, they make truth-bearers true and correspond to truths, they are part of the furniture of the world.

Apart from that and seeing that a fact may be used in at least two different ways, we read

What might a fact be? Three popular views about the nature of facts can be distinguished:

  • A fact is just a true truth-bearer,
  • A fact is just an obtaining state of affairs,
  • A fact is just a sui generis type of entity in which objects exemplify properties or stand in relations.

If one searches Stanfords Encyclopedia of Philosophy for belief, one finds

Contemporary Anglophone philosophers of mind generally use the term “belief” to refer to the attitude we have, roughly, whenever we take something to be the case or regard it as true.

And

the belief just is the fact or proposition represented, or the particular stored token of that fact or proposition

From the above, and here, it seems one can assume that a fact is to be the truth at the time one is using the word(s), making a specific proposition.

Considering "Truth" as something one believes to be true, due to any of several possible reasons.

And to think "believing in something makes it a fact" seems to be wrong.

The concepts fact and befief (and truth) seem to have a strong relationship. As these resources I mentioned alone do not help me fully grasp them, are there references (philosophers / books) that reflect on these concepts? How do they distinguish them?

5
  • 1
    To doublecheck, are you looking for the difference between fact and belief, or knowledge and belief?
    – J D
    Jan 3 at 1:00
  • fact and belief Jan 3 at 8:27
  • 1
    Everything I "know" is a fact. Everything you "know" is a belief.
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 3 at 14:23
  • A FACT by strict definition MUST BE TRUE. Notice I did NOT SAY the word belief or believed. There are different kinds of TRUTH: CONTINGENT TRUTHS & OBJECTIVE TRUTHS. What you are supposed to mean when you say "X is a fact" should imply X is forever true. For you to utter X & then we see X is false on Sunday will leave people wondering about you. All women are human beings is hopefully forever true. That is all women are human beings is an OBJECTIVE TRUTH. The truth value must hold forever. To say it is raining is not a forever TRUE CLAIM. The claim is sometimes true & sometimes false.
    – Logikal
    Jan 4 at 5:34
  • 1
    Actually, based on these quotes fact and belief do not have a strong relationship. Facts are truth-bearers that happen to be true. Let us assume for simplicity that the truth-bearers are simply states of affairs, and propositions express them. Beliefs are propositional attitudes, our psychological "tints" on propositions. There need not be any relation between the "tint" (degree of belief) we put on a proposition for psychological reasons and whether the state of affairs it expresses obtains (its truth). We can be certain about false propositions or completely disbelieve facts.
    – Conifold
    Jan 4 at 9:09
5

When a person is arguing some point of uncertain truth, and to justify his argument he says, "it's a fact that X," what he means is that he asserts X is true and also he considers the truth of X to be firmly supported. It may carry a connotation that his listener would be irrational not to accept X. The arguer would not say "it's a fact that X" when referring to some uncertain point or supposition. Calling X a fact in this context implies some level of definiteness and confidence about the belief in X.

There is another sense of "facts," though, in which facts are just states of the world, irrespective of beliefs about them or the confidence in these beliefs.

In both senses, there is a clear distinction between fact and belief. Beliefs are states of the mind, and facts are states of the world. You may hold a belief about a fact. You do not hold a fact about a fact, or a fact about a belief.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.