Theories About Facts

Creative Services, Rice University

We value facts for their authority. In science, facts are contrasted with theories; in law, with opinions. But dictionaries offer three crucially different definitions of “fact”. Theorizing about facts leads beyond truth and knowledge to issues of evidence and perception. Facts reside in a space between the mental realm and independent reality. Ineffable facts would be no use in reasoning or arguing with others; what matters are our representations of facts, and our representations are human constructions. We can better grasp what facts are and why they have authority if we understand them as engineered, rather than found or created.
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