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. – Hunan Rostomyan Sep 3 '13 at 5:12
  • @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 :) – NullPointer Sep 3 '13 at 5:54
  • 1
    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'. – Hunan Rostomyan Sep 3 '13 at 6:30
  • I'm used to hearing "fact" be used to describe any true proposition. – Dennis Sep 3 '13 at 13:15
  • @Dennis, then what can we use for "truth"? – NullPointer Sep 3 '13 at 13:38
up vote 18 down vote accepted

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. – NullPointer Sep 3 '13 at 7:51
  • 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. – Ken Bellows Sep 3 '13 at 16:34
  • I fixed the first paragraph, last sentence is now actually understandable (bracketed example were not displayed). – Lukas Sep 3 '13 at 19:03
  • @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? – NullPointer Sep 6 '13 at 5:49
  • 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. – Eliran Apr 24 '16 at 23:57
A fact    is a perception of            reality.
A truth   is a perception which matches reality.

There is a nice parallelism with [axiomatic] formal systems:

An axiom   is a building block for           possible worlds.
A  theorem is a statement      about certain possible worlds.

Ok, that didn't turn out quite as well as I hoped. I was trying to establish the analogy:

fact : truth :: theorem : axiom

There is a weird asymmetry:

    fact ↔ theorem
    truth ↔ axiom

At least, I expected it to work the other way around. The convention in this thread has facts being possibly wrong; we are much more used to axioms being possibly wrong, for we only call something a 'theorem' if it has been logically demonstrated to flow from the axioms. Then again, if we are trying to approximate the world with a formal system, we are essentially searching for axioms that generate theorems which match the facts. In pictogram format:

  (fact)
observation   < —— >   theorem
    ∧                     ∧
    |                     |
    ∨                     ∨
  truth                 axiom

Excepting tautologies, truths are unknowable except by approximation; we must remember that science models reality, but it does not say what reality is. Models are made up of axioms & theorems. To the extent that our theorems match our observations ('the facts'), we think that our axioms are [close to] truths.

P.S. The word 'reality' in this answer can be replaced with 'possible world'; what is true in a fictional world may not be true in our actual world. Assuming there is an objective reality, of course. :-)

  • 2
    The appeal to "perception" here seems to beg certain very important questions; namely, that there might be a substantial ontological difference between the things in the world that ought properly be considered facts and the things in the world that an observer can form true beliefs about. You can see this quite well on the maths side, since it's a matter of philosophical and mathematical controversy to say that the only acceptable models of mathematical ontology are those isomorphic to a proof-theoretic semantic structure. – Paul Ross Oct 29 '13 at 0:22
  • 1
    @PaulRoss: that is one packed statement! What's an example of something which isn't 'a proof-theoretic semantic structure', which is a candidate for describing 'things in the world'? – labreuer Nov 1 '13 at 3:51
  • how about set theoretic models? The idea that there are more sets than can be given in purely constructive terms is quite established in analysis. And if we want all of that mathematical power at our disposal, using set theoretic foundations for logical structure has definite value over and above what can be said of strictly formal proof theory. – Paul Ross Nov 1 '13 at 12:04
  • 1
    I think you're proposing something radically at odds with both current mathematical practice and all of the currently live proposals to amend that practice, and suggest you might want to investigate more of what is currently out there. Have you tried, say, looking at ideas in Reverse Mathematics, Category Theory, Type Theory or alternative Set theories? – Paul Ross Nov 13 '13 at 15:32
  • 1
    @StevenHoyt: I just came across the following quote of William James: "But please observe, now, that when as empiricists we give up the doctrine of objective certitude, we do not thereby give up the quest or hope of truth itself. We still pin our faith on its existence, and still believe that we gain an ever better position towards it by systematically continuing to roll up experiences and think." (The Will to Believe) I'm taking a realist position that you can get closer to the truth. Without realism (however 'critical' you like), I see no difference between 'fact' and 'truth'. – labreuer Jun 13 at 16:45

I want to make some general points about the OP.

Firstly, you appear to be asking for how the words truth and fact are used, but you capitalize these words. That already tends to obfuscate the issue, suggesting there is some very special, possibly metaphysical, usage you are alluding to.

Secondly, in asking for the meaning of individual words, you are suggesting that the unit of meaning is a single word. This is not true, as any cursory look in a dictionary will demonstrate. There are multiple entries for both truth and fact, not in the the least because the meaning of the words is modified by their context, and that therefore truth and fact can have multiple meanings in different contexts.

Now, it happens to be the case that one such dictionary entry for truth is "conforming to the facts" and for fact "a particular truth known". This is from the Oxford Dictionary, but I assume any dictionary would have similar definitions. This only goes to show that in one important sense truth and fact are interchangeable.

  • I don't think this answers the question. The OP admits these words can be used interchangeably, but is looking for some difference between them. You appear to be saying there is no difference between them. It would help to have references to philosophers who take this position that truth and fact are the same so the reader can get more information. – Frank Hubeny Jun 7 at 11:25
  • 1
    The Answer doesn't say that 'fact' and 'truth' are interchangeable, only that in one important sense they are so. And that whether they are interchangeable depends on context. It might have been useful to have examples but the basic claim that words such as 'fact' and 'truth' do not have nuclear, essentialist meanings but contextually dependent meanings strikes me as sound. Cf Frege : “Only in the context of a sentence do words have meaning.”. Different contexts, different sentences, different meanings. This is a sound methodological point to make. Hello again, btw ! Best - G – Geoffrey Thomas Jun 7 at 23:05
  • I think 'fact' has largely had its day; the notion is seldom discussed by philosophers nowadays mainly because no-one has been able to find a non-circular definition or analysis. 'Truth' enjoys variable fortunes. – Geoffrey Thomas Jun 7 at 23:12

truth is a generally accepted outcome or reasoning while fact is a proven truth...in other words every Fact is True but not all Truths are facts. Example 1+1=2 is a fact (only one result proven truth), but 2=1+1 is true but not fact(infinite result as 2=1x2,2=6-4,2=2+0 to infinity.

  • 1
    This is mathematically illiterate. – JP McCarthy Jan 24 at 11:50

In a sense, say from deflationary theory or pragmatism for instance, facts and truths are labels, ways of talking. Both are lingual. The only difference that makes a difference is that facts are apparent and obvious while all propositions that are truth-bearing require warrant, justification.

For example, it is a fact that the sky is blue when it is blue and that roses that are red are red ... it is also a fact that colors do not exist.

If we look at how we're using our vocabularies, then we can ultimately notice as some have in philosophy, that whatever else we'd say about facts and truths are just particular distinctions a group of people have found useful to make in their sort of conversations about them.

  • well, if that was a bad comment, then at least three pennacle philosophers can be discarded. (it helps to comment if you're going to give a negative vote; it's constructive and simply good etiquette) – Steven Hoyt Jun 6 at 18:41
  • 1
    +1 I agree with you about negative voting. However, I would like more references. You mention "as some have in philosophy". Who are these some? – Frank Hubeny Jun 6 at 19:52
  • 1
    rorty, famously in "mirror" and to some extent we begin to get that in kant in "critique" (the more famous one). wittgenstein and an entire genre of continental philosophers, from heiddegger to derrida and to the marixists like engel. these are each and in their own way, of course, but the notion is the social nature of "truth" and the apparentness problem of "fact". hope that helps. – Steven Hoyt Jun 6 at 21:04

Facts are statements which hold correct on the subject's nature, property, incidents or behaviour etc.

Truth is an instance of quoting one or many of the facts while describing or discussing the subject.

We look INSIDE ourselves to find truths. OUTSIDE of ourselves to find facts.

• Chocolate is good = Truth, not fact • I love my mom = Truth, not fact • God exists = Truth, not fact

Many things exist in truth (according to an observer), and not fact. Truths need an observer to exist. Facts stand independent of an observer, wether we like it or not.

• The sun exists = fact • The earth orbits the sun = fact

  • 2
    Your answer explains nothing and gives no sources or references. What does that mean, "to find truths inside"? Is there chocolate inside of you? – iphigenie Feb 9 '14 at 20:32
  • If my answer explains nothing, you must not read very well. No, chocolate is not inside me, but the preference for it is. Truths are subjective, facts are objective. Plain enough for you? – Julian Feb 24 '14 at 17:56
  • No need to get rude. An answer here is supposed to give more than your opinion and/or examples. If you disagree, read the FAQ on good answers. That wasn't by downvote, which means that I'm not the only one finding your answer not useful. – iphigenie Feb 25 '14 at 10:22

A fact by definition expresses something MUST forever be TRUE. A fact is not voted upon by a majority. A fact is not a belief or percieved by individuals. Your perception and your subjective beliefs can be wrong but a fact can never be wrong by definition. If you think a fact can be wrong, then someone or you made a wrong claim, period. If I say all women are 12 feet tall, all it takes is one sample to disprove the original claim. One woman who is not 12 feet tall disproves the original claim and it is A Fact the original claim is false. A fact contains very specific content that prevents a misreading or misinterpretation. In this way the truth value of a fact can never change. You could be guilty of using loose language (vague or ambiguous terminology) by avoiding the specifics to deceive others or persuade others. You can misrepresent facts. This is why classical logic had strength in fallacy detection.

Some truths are corresponding truths. That is, the claim matches the sense verification. So if it is true that you are sitting in a chair right now, this is verifiable by the senses as true or false. One should take note you sitting in the chair is not forever true. This truth would only be temporal. This gives the impression some truths are relative or contextual. The verification of the senses is usually what science uses as a standard of truth. Objective truths are not always verifiable though so scientific thinkers will claim either there are no objective truths or no human would be able to detect them.

Objective truths are usually spoken about when one claims a proposition is true or false. Objective truths are independent and are not biased, opinionated, subjective, relative, voted upon, etc. The truths would be true even if there were no humans. Snakes would still be reptiles. The Sun would still be the same, Jupiter would still be the same, addition would still be the same, subtraction still the same, plant life still the same, etc. To say some thing is objective is to say this proposition does not change its truth value over time. So in Aristotelian logic a syllogism in the mood AAA in the first figure is always valid would be an example of an objective claim. This notion if it is true would also be a fact. Suppose I claim x is objective and end up being wrong? Well then my claim was objectively false the second I uttered it. Even if you don't know the truth value of a given proposition there us STILL a truth value. Not knowing the truth value is no excuse to deny the truth of a proposition proof or no proof. Proposition values do not depend on your existence as they are independent. The proposition "there is a God" has a truth value with or without an existing proof. You just may not know the truth value. Being specific as possible instead of trying to generalize as much would reduce possible misunderstandings or misinterpretation .

  • "A fact contains very specific content that prevents a misreading or misinterpretation."—So is there "action at a distance" between particles with mass, charge, and/or color? Is that a fact? Your definition of 'fact' would appear to make any and all empirical statements unknowable as facts. That leaves analytic statements, e.g. theorems which flow from specific axioms via specific rules of inference. And yet, the word 'fact' is used more widely than this. – labreuer Jun 8 at 23:15
  • @labreuer, science uses their own slang.Many social group have their own slang amongst its members & people outside of the membership will not KNOW the slang context being used. If a child hears the word fact does that child expect different people to use the exact same word in different ways? NO! The word is meant to be universal just like words like triangle, stop, No, animal, etc.Those concepts can be understood fairly easy no matter what language we use. They don't differ depending on which street corner you are on. Science is all about probability. Science cannot be 100% by definition. – Logikal Jun 8 at 23:23
  • I'm afraid I don't know what you mean by "very specific content", then. Outside of analytic truths in formal systems, there is nothing more specific than science. I think there is tension between "very specific content" and "A fact by definition expresses something MUST forever be TRUE." There is an inherent trade-off between specificity and generalization. How we describe reality changes with time. For example, we no longer think the earth is enclosed in a glass dome. Per your stance, your example of "The Sun would still be the same" reduces to "Sun = Sun", which says very little. – labreuer Jun 8 at 23:42
  • @@labreuer you are using a science slang that many people do not use. Children would not know your slang because it will change depending on too many things. THEN they would get the idea nothing is certain. By specific content I mean adding proper descriptions where possible instead of taking shortcuts. Objective facts never change so that is not a problem. The fact that things CHANGE OVERTIME tells you objectively those things were not facts but things BELIEVED to be facts. There is a difference. What people believe or think about x is more psychology than philosophy. – Logikal Jun 8 at 23:57

The difference between truth and fact is that fact is something that cannot be combated with reasoning, for it is logic itself. But truth is something which depends on a person's perspective and experience.

  • 1
    Facts are not logic itself. Logic is independent of contents. It's not logic that tells us that cells multiply by cleavage, or that the distance to the moon varies. Your notion of truth is also weird, since totally relativistic. Your answer lacks sources, and is, as it stands, nothing more than a unfounded opinion. Please note that this question already has an accepted answer that is way more elaborate. Maybe you could try to point out what the other answer is lacking instead of just adding to the pile. – iphigenie Oct 27 '13 at 10:39
  • ok, thanks for the comment, but just saying I don't study philosophy and I'm only answering questions for fun, but i will try to improve my answers – Bonnie Oct 27 '13 at 13:17
  • 1
    @iphigenie What do you mean by "Your notion of truth is also weird, since totally relativistic"? I didn't know that there was any disagreement in philosophy that the truth of a proposition depends on the context, including the implicit and explicit assumptions. I see nothing weird with expecting that a person's perspective and experience will influence the context and assumption it has when judging the truth of a proposition. Note: Of course you are right with your other criticism concerning missing references, existing good answers and general unclear formulation of the answer. – Thomas Klimpel Oct 27 '13 at 15:08
  • @ThomasKlimpel I don't necessarily disagree with what you said. But I vote for making that notion explicit, and "something which depends on a person's perspective and experience" doesn't look like a truth definition entry from a philosophical dictionary, therefore I would prefer to have it elaborated. Also, as to historical notions of truth, I'm pretty sure that there was a discussion about whether or not truth has anything to do with subjectivity. What about ancient correspondence theories? – iphigenie Oct 27 '13 at 15:53
  • 1
    As you can see, Bonnie, the notion that Truth is dependent on a particular context is something that gets philosophers very excitable. Some of us think it's a great way of dealing with problems for theories of truth like the Liar Paradox (which is discussed quite often in this StackExchange), while some of us think it's pulling things too far from notions of objective reality to be comfortable with it. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Truth (plato.stanford.edu/entries/truth) is a nice introduction, if you'd like to read more! – Paul Ross Oct 27 '13 at 17:03

protected by Community Feb 10 '14 at 1:45

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

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