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brute fact

Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


M etaphysics, epistemology Also called bare fact. In an absolute sense, a fact that is obtained or explained by itself rather than through other facts and that has a fundamental or underlying role in a series of explanations. We normally cannot give a full account why the fact should be what it is, but must accept it without explanation. The first principles of systems of thought generally possess such a status. Brute facts correspond to causa sui or necessary existence in traditional metaphysics and are ultimately inexplicable. For empiricism , what is given in sense-perception is brute fact and provides the incorrigible basis of all knowledge. In a relative sense, any fact that must be contained in a higher-level description under normal circumstances is brute in relation to that higher-level description, although in another situation the fact could itself become a higher-level description containing its own brute fact. “There is something positive and ineluctable in what we sense: in its main features, at least, it is what it is irrespective of any choice of ours. We have simply to take it for what it is, accept it as ‘brute fact’.” Walsh, Reason and Experience ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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