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Introduction and thesis statement
There are many open-ended questions with answers that are difficult but interesting to consider and find. In addition to the well-known discussion about which came first, the chicken or the egg, representatives of the theory of knowledge have introduced a variety of concepts that may confuse or challenge ordinary people, including students and writers. Such discussions on facts, theories, and their connections seem to be captivating and educational indeed. Sometimes, combining facts and explaining theories turn out to be difficult tasks. Still, very often, the establishment of theories and the explanation of facts may help simplify life and put everything in perspective. To understand the nature of the relationship between fact and theory, it is not enough to use dictionaries or provide standard definitions. Instead, it is important to consider concrete examples and apply the concepts in multiple ways. Facts are indeed needed to establish theories and also that theories help make sense of facts; instead of discussing these truths alone, this essay turns out to be an attempt to clarify what unites fact and theory and why such a union matters.
Importance of Concepts’ Definitions
Nowadays, it is not difficult to find numerous definitions of concepts using both print and online dictionaries. The theory of knowledge is a field in which definitions mean a lot because they help create a basis for further evaluation and explanation. Considering the philosophical direction of this paper and the need to discuss the importance of facts regarding theories and vice versa, it could be difficult to find out which domination is possible and reasonable. Still, the challenge is accepted, and the work should begin.
There are two main concepts at hand to discuss: facts and theories. An interesting feature of both of these concepts is that they each exist in all areas of knowledge such as the arts, ethics, human sciences, mathematics, religion, and history. Indeed, in all of these areas, facts and theories play a crucial role because they create the basis for discussion. According to Scott, a fact may be any statement that is proved to be true (233). Moreover, this author talks about the relationship between facts and theories, explaining theory as an “account of the world which goes beyond what we can see and measure” (Scott 759).
In one online dictionary, “theory” is a term with multiple definitions, one of which states that a theory is the analysis of related facts (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). In other words, theories cannot be developed without facts, and facts seem to be chaotic and unrelated when they are not grouped into theories. Therefore, it is necessary to think about the importance of both theories and facts and discuss their roles in the theory of knowledge, as well as in everyday life.
Facts Help Establish Theories
It has been identified that facts help establish theories. In this way, people gather several ideas, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and investigate their possible connections. If the relevance and appropriateness of facts are proven and cannot be disputed, the chosen facts may be gathered and used to create new theories. It is not difficult to gather several facts through observations and discuss their importance or inevitability. For example, it is a fact that if an object is taken from the ground and released, it falls until it reaches the ground or hits another object that can hold it. Moreover, it is a fact that objects of different sizes and masses fall at different speeds. These two facts and several additional foundational facts combined to create the theory of gravitation developed by Isaac Newton at the end of the 17th century (Rau 35).
At the same time, these two facts may also be based on Newton’s already-proven theory and developed regarding the conclusions made several centuries ago. Therefore, some people use the theory of gravitation to explain why they fall, while other people use the fact that objects fall to prove the theory of gravitation. Still, could the fact that all objects fall if there is no object to support them have the same meaning without the already-offered theory of gravitation? Or could the theory of gravitation properly exist without the fact that all objects tend to fall without support? This example proves that it is necessary to use information as evidence relying on a certain system of ideas. In other words, facts help prove something, and theories prove the value of facts. The relationship between these concepts is close and cannot be broken.
Theories Help Explain Facts
Another powerful example of the relationship between facts and theories could be taken from the debates that continue to occur around the theory of evolution developed by Charles Darwin in the middle of the 19th century. The theorist says that there is a natural process of development that depends on three main factors: variation, survival, and heritability (Bortz 51). This theory is usually used to explain several facts and combine past, present, and future achievements. For example, if people fail to comprehend why something happens to a person or just happens randomly, they use the theory of evolution as an excuse or as a statement that presupposes some kind of meaningful explanation.
It is also necessary to understand that any scientific or natural understanding requires both a fact (or more likely, several facts) and a theory that aims at explaining those facts. What is the value of the theory of evolution without clearly stated facts? Is it appropriate to use facts and give an explanation without regarding the main aspects of the chosen theory? Therefore, theories and facts cannot be divided or separated because they support each other to create one clear explanation and description. This conclusion is made not because these two concepts of the theory of knowledge are hard to imagine without each other, but because their values and impact are more effective and considerable when taken together. Ideas and evidence may exist separately. However, in such cases, the worth of both may be called into question. Therefore, the ideas that facts should be used to create theories and that theories help make sense of facts seem to be the best explanation of the relationship between the two concepts.
In general, many current discussions and debates are based on either facts or theories only. Therefore, their results and impact remain doubtful and unclear. People have already succeeded in introducing theories based on facts and in explaining facts by relying on theories. Still, they continue to make the same mistake when they try to divide fact from theory and clarify which aspect is more important. Instead, it should be emphasized that facts help promote theories, and theories help promote the worth of facts. Indeed, this relationship is a fact that cannot be neglected due to the existing theory of knowledge.
Bortz, Fred. Charles Darwin and the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. The Rosen Publishing Group, 2013.
Rau, A.R.P. The Beauty of Physics: Patterns, Principles, and Perspectives. Oxford University Press, 2014.
Scott, John. A Dictionary of Sociology. Oxford University Press, 2014.
“Theory.” Marriam-Webster Dictionary, n.d. Web.