Do facts require belief for it to be a fact?
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14-09-2013, 05:25 PM
RE: Do facts require belief for it to be a fact?
Lets see. I made a claim that facts require belief.

Others disagreed, I then asked what fact existed without human belief in it. And there was no answer.


So how the fuck do facts exist without humans believing in them?

Do you guys believe in evolution?
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01-10-2013, 06:06 AM
RE: Do facts require belief for it to be a fact?
(05-09-2013 07:00 AM)I and I Wrote:  We regard photosynthesis as being a fact but if nobody knew about photosynthesis of nobody believed in it would it still be a fact?

As far as I can determine this is a pseudo/philosophy problem that is entirely the product of equivocation.

Terminological Equivocation

If we understand fact to be an actual or possible occurrence in reality, i.e. the "real-world"/that which exists independent of observation, then there is no problem. Thus photosynthesis was always a fact.

Semiotic Equivocation

But from reading your other posts on this matter you are also relying on an additional level of equivocation, namely of semiotic equivocation, and its artificiality has apparently caused some of the other posters to miss it. I will use Saussure's terminology to try and elucidate your semiotic equivocation. Consider the example of photosynthesis:

signifier: the word "photosynthesis"

signified: the (abstract) concept of photosynthesis

referent: the actual physical/biochemical process of photosynthesis

If I have understood you then what you have done is collapsed signifier, signified and referent into a single vague "thing" in order to create a "problem". Signifier and signified did not exist until human arrival but the underlying referent preceded Homo sapiens sapiens. That is to say, the word "photosynthesis" and the concept of photosynthesis follow human evolution--because they depend on a linguistic mind--but that is a truism. The facticity of photosynthesis (as a physical process) is unaffected by human (or alien) semiosis. The alternative is a form of semiotic reductionism and if that is what you want to argue for then you should be explicit so that it can be addressed directly.
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01-10-2013, 07:35 AM
RE: Do facts require belief for it to be a fact?
(14-09-2013 05:25 PM)I and I Wrote:  Lets see. I made a claim that facts require belief.

You merely asserted that "facts require belief" without even clearly defining your key terms. Facts don't require belief in any realist epistemology and realist ontology that I am aware of. I hazard a guess that most of the people on this forum either implicitly or explicitly subscribe to some form of epistemological and ontological realism. Belief is essentially a psychologcal concept, it refers to a particular subjective state. To a philosophical realist (eg. a scientific realist) human subjectivity does not alter the "furniture" of the universe, i.e. belief is orthogonal to ontology. In plain language "things" don't fall into and out of existence depending on human belief. Belief is a psychological disposition in relation to a proposition. Thus facticity and belief are independent of each other but will have a contingent overlap in some cases, e.g. a hot stove will burn me/I believe a hot stove will burn me.

You need an argument that "facts require belief" and that should follow from clear definitions of fact and belief.

Quote:Others disagreed, I then asked what fact existed without human belief in it. And there was no answer.

There were plenty of answers but you just ignored them. No physical law depends on human belief for its efficacy. HIV/AIDS denialists die of AIDS. I won't begin to float the moment I cease to believe in gravity.

Quote:So how the fuck do facts exist without humans believing in them?

If we understand the term fact to denote an actual or possible occurrence in objective reality then your question becomes incoherent. Further, facts don't exist per se. Facticity is a category not an element of the universe as such; it is a category into which propositions about the elements of the universe belong or don't belong. To designate the statement "John went to school today" as factual is to say that the processes and events that constitute John going to school today occurred. Similarly, to state that "it is a fact that Taraxacum officinale is capable of photosynthesis" is to say that the processes that constitue photosynthesis can and do occur in Taraxacum officinale. The facticity of photosynthesis in Taraxacum officinale, i.e. the occurrence of photosynthesis in Taraxacum officinale is not dependent on human observation or--more specifically--belief.

If your response is "Ah but if there is no concept of photosythesis is Taraxacum officinale phototynthesising?" then then the answer is yes and I refer you to my other post for the resolution of this semiotic equivocation.

Quote:Do you guys believe in evolution?

I take it from this rhetorical question that your intended argument is that evolution couldn't be a fact because facts require belief and belief requires a (human) mind. This is just more of the semiotic conflation and equivocation that I detail in my other post. To reiterate, there is a ditinction between a referent and human semiosis in relation to that referent. Where a referent has an objective existence human semiosis is merely descriptive not constitutive of that referent. Evolution by natural selection consists of a set of (objective) states, events and processes, call these E. E is indifferent to human cognition and abstraction. Did the concept of evolution by natural selection exist before humans? No because concepts inhabit minds and texts but E nevertheless existed before humans.

As I stated in my other post, you appear to be trying to smuggle in some form of semiotic reductivism rather than arguing for it explicitly.
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01-10-2013, 10:07 AM
RE: Do facts require belief for it to be a fact?
(05-09-2013 08:42 PM)I and I Wrote:  I am asking how something is a fact absence of a human mind to conceptualize it and believe it.

A fact is not a concept. A fact is an actual or possible occurrence in objective reality. A concept is an abstraction, an idea or a unit of meaning. Only by conflating facts with concepts can you pose your question. I will use Saussaure's terminology to disentangle your confusion:

signifier: the word "photosynthesis"
signified: the (abstract) concept of photosynthesis
referent: the set of physical processes, states and events that comprise what is (contingently) termed photosynthesis

Signification is a human process so obviously it does not occur in the absence of humans. However, the referents of signification occur regardless of signification. Semiosis doesn't create the referent that the word and concept photosynthesis point to, it just labels it.

Quote:If people don't believe that something is a fact, then that fact is irrelevant, just like photosynthesis was totally irrelevant to people before people knew about it. A fact needs a human mind, unless you know of some other creature that can determine facts and non-facts.

This is a whole lot of confusion.

If the people of a village don't believe that the local well is poisoned, i.e. they don't believe it is a fact that the well was poisoned, then that is very relevant to their subsequent behaviour. Rather than venture to another well they instead draw water from the local well. Every propsosition P can be restated in the form of a negation ~Q so every aspect of these villagers' life can be stated as the non-belief in the factuality of something and it can also be demonstrated how this non-belief bears on their behaviour.

Photosynthesis was never totally irrelevant to any mammal. Mammalian evolution depended on the prior evolution of plant life. Complex terrestial life could only have evolved if there was suitable nourishment. No mammal can be sustained on a diet solely of fungi.

Again you are conflating a concept with its underlying referent. Photosynthesis consists in a set of physical/biochemical states, events and processes, call these P. P does not depend on semiosis for its existence or integrity--conceptualising and naming P photosynthesis doesn't in any way alter P. P was a fact--an actual or possible occurrence in objective reality--before any act of human abstraction and signification.
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01-10-2013, 10:47 PM (This post was last modified: 01-10-2013 10:58 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Do facts require belief for it to be a fact?
(01-10-2013 07:35 AM)Chippy Wrote:  You merely asserted that "facts require belief" without even clearly defining your key terms.

We tried to tell him exactly that weeks ago. You're wasting your time.

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Isaiah 45:7 "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things" (KJV)

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02-10-2013, 12:14 AM
RE: Do facts require belief for it to be a fact?
(01-10-2013 10:07 AM)Chippy Wrote:  
(05-09-2013 08:42 PM)I and I Wrote:  I am asking how something is a fact absence of a human mind to conceptualize it and believe it.

A fact is not a concept. A fact is an actual or possible occurrence in objective reality. A concept is an abstraction, an idea or a unit of meaning. Only by conflating facts with concepts can you pose your question. I will use Saussaure's terminology to disentangle your confusion:

signifier: the word "photosynthesis"
signified: the (abstract) concept of photosynthesis
referent: the set of physical processes, states and events that comprise what is (contingently) termed photosynthesis

Signification is a human process so obviously it does not occur in the absence of humans. However, the referents of signification occur regardless of signification. Semiosis doesn't create the referent that the word and concept photosynthesis point to, it just labels it.

Quote:If people don't believe that something is a fact, then that fact is irrelevant, just like photosynthesis was totally irrelevant to people before people knew about it. A fact needs a human mind, unless you know of some other creature that can determine facts and non-facts.

This is a whole lot of confusion.

If the people of a village don't believe that the local well is poisoned, i.e. they don't believe it is a fact that the well was poisoned, then that is very relevant to their subsequent behaviour. Rather than venture to another well they instead draw water from the local well. Every propsosition P can be restated in the form of a negation ~Q so every aspect of these villagers' life can be stated as the non-belief in the factuality of something and it can also be demonstrated how this non-belief bears on their behaviour.

Photosynthesis was never totally irrelevant to any mammal. Mammalian evolution depended on the prior evolution of plant life. Complex terrestial life could only have evolved if there was suitable nourishment. No mammal can be sustained on a diet solely of fungi.

Again you are conflating a concept with its underlying referent. Photosynthesis consists in a set of physical/biochemical states, events and processes, call these P. P does not depend on semiosis for its existence or integrity--conceptualising and naming P photosynthesis doesn't in any way alter P. P was a fact--an actual or possible occurrence in objective reality--before any act of human abstraction and signification.

So you buy into the subjective - objective dichotomy?

What species holds photosynthesis to be a fact besides humans?
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02-10-2013, 01:39 AM
RE: Do facts require belief for it to be a fact?
(02-10-2013 12:14 AM)I and I Wrote:  So you buy into the subjective - objective dichotomy?

Yes.

Quote:What species holds photosynthesis to be a fact besides humans?

No species that we know of, complex semiosis appears to be uniquely human. Again, you are conflating signifier/signified and referent.
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02-10-2013, 09:57 AM
RE: Do facts require belief for it to be a fact?
(02-10-2013 01:39 AM)Chippy Wrote:  
(02-10-2013 12:14 AM)I and I Wrote:  So you buy into the subjective - objective dichotomy?

Yes.

Quote:What species holds photosynthesis to be a fact besides humans?

No species that we know of, complex semiosis appears to be uniquely human. Again, you are conflating signifier/signified and referent.

It's a very valiant attempt, Chippy, and personally I thought you gave a great explanation.

If you're new around here you'll soon see that I and I is not interested in, nor, judging by past experience, capable of, honest discussion.

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02-10-2013, 10:34 PM
RE: Do facts require belief for it to be a fact?
(02-10-2013 01:39 AM)Chippy Wrote:  
(02-10-2013 12:14 AM)I and I Wrote:  So you buy into the subjective - objective dichotomy?

Yes.

Quote:What species holds photosynthesis to be a fact besides humans?

No species that we know of, complex semiosis appears to be uniquely human. Again, you are conflating signifier/signified and referent.

So only humans use concepts to better understand the world around us. So now explain how a frog comes to the conclusion that photosynthesis is a fact or fiction.

If only humans can think in this way, then according to only humans, facts exist. A human can make the claim that photosynthesis affects plant life but it would be an incorrect statement to say photosynthesis is a fact according to a plant.

And yes humans use words and concepts to better understand the world, the word fact is one of them.

Any disagreements?
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02-10-2013, 11:00 PM
RE: Do facts require belief for it to be a fact?
(02-10-2013 10:34 PM)I and I Wrote:  
(02-10-2013 01:39 AM)Chippy Wrote:  Yes.


No species that we know of, complex semiosis appears to be uniquely human. Again, you are conflating signifier/signified and referent.

So only humans use concepts to better understand the world around us. So now explain how a frog comes to the conclusion that photosynthesis is a fact or fiction.

If only humans can think in this way, then according to only humans, facts exist. A human can make the claim that photosynthesis affects plant life but it would be an incorrect statement to say photosynthesis is a fact according to a plant.

And yes humans use words and concepts to better understand the world, the word fact is one of them.

Any disagreements?

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