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Facts is an interdisciplinary term that encompasses the entirety of all statements relating to a delimited subject area .


Contrary to the meaning in everyday language , facts are not to be equated with facts . In the theory of science, a state of affairs is merely the object of a statement. A fact is fictitious until it has been checked and verified . Only then does it become a true statement, a fact. If, on the other hand , it was classified as false ( falsified ), it is a "negative fact" that does not represent a fact.

Issues are research subjects in particular in propositional logic , philosophy of science and law . Since these disciplines each have different cognitive objects and cognitive interests , the definitions of the concept of facts are necessarily different. The term “work”, for example, describes a situation that has a different content in physics than in economics . Physical work is defined in a simplified way: force times distance (in this sense, the lifting platform performs work that can be recovered from the potential energy). In economics, on the other hand, work is a production factor that encompasses all planned human activities aimed at generating income.

For the Duden , facts are “the totality of all circumstances or facts that are significant in a certain context”, so for the Duden the facts are part of the facts. Philosophy , philosophy of science and law, however, have in common that they understand facts and figures as two separate concepts. Facts are only true facts. If there is a fact, Ludwig Wittgenstein calls it a (simple) fact. For the philosopher Edmund Husserl , a state of affairs is “the connection between things.” For Bertrand Russell the state of affairs can be a fact, a fact but never a state of affairs; a state of affairs may or may not exist, a fact is an existing state of affairs. The facts are the German translation of the Latin status rerum . However, it does not designate the things themselves, but their relationship to one another, such as what connects or divides them.

Propositional logic

Propositional logic has more to do with facts than with facts. It is a theory about the existence of things. If statements are linked to one another, the result is a statement about a fact. A statement is an atomic linguistic structure that intends a state of affairs and thereby acquires the property of being true or false. Accordingly, a statement is only true if it agrees with the intended facts. The existence or non-existence of a fact depends on the existence or non-existence of a fact. In philosophy, a state of affairs is the object of a statement that describes how something is constituted. A condition formulates a state of affairs which in a certain way is a prerequisite for another state of affairs. Propositional logic cannot be operated without the concept of facts.

Ludwig Wittgenstein showed the limits of sensibly formulated facts in 1922 in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus . They lie where there is uncertainty about the conditions under which a state of affairs will be classified as fact. The area of ​​the facts is thus not determined by the laws of nature . The fact that Cologne Cathedral is 37 km high formulates a fact (even if it should be impossible according to the laws of nature to build a structure of this height). The formulation can be classified as meaningful because we have an idea of ​​what would have to be the case if it were true (then the towers would have to reach into the stratosphere ...); According to the existing agreements about what is noted with sentences like "... is 37 km high", we can decide whether this is the case or not by determining the tower heights by means of a measurement. According to Wittgenstein, this alignment with reality ( correspondence theory ) is necessary in order to establish a fact. After the measurement, the facts are now established as a fact, namely that the Cologne Cathedral was 157.38 m high (at the time of the measurement).

Wittgenstein's analysis of linguistic usage allowed a number of logical conclusions to be drawn: the number of facts is greater than that of facts, it is not tied to the laws of nature or to previous observations. However, a fact does imply a theoretical verifiability of the statement made with it. At the same time, the limits of meaningful statements of facts can be defined: statements for which it is unclear what should be the case when they are true are formulated in an incomprehensible manner and therefore meaningless. Statements on causality and ethical principles are also not indicative . Strictly speaking, as statements depicting reality, they are meaningless.


Facts in law are the appropriate context of legally relevant human behavior, legal relationships, legal facts or data and facts of cultural and social reality with regard to legally regulated human behavior. While the facts are mostly general abstract, the facts are individual and concrete.

The clarification of the facts is one of the most important maxims of jurisprudence . Courts are obliged to exhaustively exhaust the facts submitted to them for decision and to investigate all ambiguities, doubts or contradictions ex officio . After the facts have been clarified, the court has to decide in free assessment of the evidence in accordance with Section 286 (1) ZPO whether an actual allegation is to be considered true or not. The facts are determined by the court through the evaluation of evidence and then subjected to a legal norm within the framework of the subsumption . Aids for recording the facts are time tables (data over time) and sketches of the process or the network of relationships between people / companies.

The parties to the dispute tend to present the facts (sequence of events) - possibly favored by deficiencies in perception - in a favorable manner, so that the same incident is presented to the court with different nuances. According to the established case law of the Federal Court of Justice, lawyers , tax advisors or notaries are obliged to provide a comprehensive explanation of the facts. According to Section 17 of the BeurkG, the notary has to research the will of the parties involved and clarify the matter. Article 103 (1) of the Basic Law obliges the court to take note of the submission of the parties and to consider it when making a decision. Facts established by the court are always proven; what cannot be proven in court proceedings is not included in the facts and is deemed not to have happened. According to the law - regardless of the actual occurrences - the facts recorded in the minutes form the basis of the proceedings in the main hearing, in particular for the appeal proceedings . The formation of judicial convictions strives for absolute truth, which, however, can never be reached because of the recognizable imperfection of human knowledge. The facts on which a judgment is based is an internal process construct, because a process produces its own truth itself.


When working out a matter, for example on the basis of witness statements on file or police reports, no essential circumstances may be omitted or added. The mistake of law students to make statements in a statement of facts that do not result from reported facts, but from their own interpretation , is called "facts squeeze" among examiners. The subject matter to be dealt with is understood as a concrete life issue, i.e. the linguistically implemented rendering of an - albeit small - excerpt from social reality.

The basic question position on an issue is called the cardinal question .


Web links

Wiktionary: facts  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b Gerold Wünsch: Introduction to the Philosophy of Chemistry. Königshausen & Neumann, 2000, ISBN 978-3-826-01843-5 , p. 28 ( limited preview in the Google book search).
  2. Edmund Husserl: Logical investigations. First part, 1900, p. 228.
  3. ^ Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm : German Dictionary . 1893, col. 1609.
  4. ^ Rolf-Albert Dietrich: Language and Reality in Wittgenstein's Tractatus. Walter de Gruyter, 1973, ISBN 978-3-111-35528-3 , p. 22 ( limited preview in Google book search).
  5. Ralf Goeres: The development of the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein. Königshausen & Neumann, 2000, ISBN 978-3-826-01819-0 , p. 358 ( limited preview in the Google book search).
  6. Helmut Seiffert: Introduction to the philosophy of science: Bd. Dictionary of epistemological terminology. CH Beck, 1997, ISBN 978-3-406-42200-3 , p. 155 ( limited preview in Google book search).
  7. Helmut Seiffert: Introduction to the philosophy of science: Bd. Dictionary of epistemological terminology. CH Beck, 1997, ISBN 978-3-406-42200-3 , p. 37 ( limited preview in Google book search).
  8. Reinhardt Grossmann: The existence of the world. Walter de Gruyter, 2004, ISBN 978-3-110-32410-5 , p. 96 ( limited preview in Google book search).
  9. ^ Günther Winkler : Space and Law. Springer Vienna, 1999, ISBN 978-3-709-16807-3 , pp. 140 ff ( limited preview in Google book search).
  10. BGH, judgment of November 30, 2010, Az. VI ZR 25/09, full text .
  11. ^ A b Thomas Zerres: Civil law. Springer, 2005, ISBN 978-3-540-22687-1 , p. 4 ( limited preview in the Google book search).
  12. BVerfG, decision of October 30, 1990, Az. 2 BvR 562/88, BVerfGE 83, 24 , 35.
  13. ^ BGH, judgment of December 19, 1951, Az. 3 StR 575/51, BGHSt 2, 125 = NJW 1952, 432.
  14. Bernd Kalsbach, Anwaltsblatt 1951 , p. 110.
  15. ^ Klaus Ferdinand Gärditz : Criminal trial and prevention. Mohr Siebeck, 2003, ISBN 978-3-161-47965-6 , p. 67 ( limited preview in Google book search).
  16. Peter Bringewat: Methodology of legal case processing. W. Kohlhammer Verlag, 2007, ISBN 978-3-170-19671-1 , p. 21 ( limited preview in Google book search).