My title is the somewhat overconfident answer to the question I posed in a previous post. If you are reading this on an electronic device, it is a fact that the device is turned on. It is also a fact that this post is being displayed on your screen. You can, presumably, turn off just the screen. The first fact (that your device is on) will remain the case while second (that it is displaying this post) will cease to be. Or you can simply close the browser. What’s interesting here is that you will now again have destroyed the fact that the post is being displayed, but you will have done it by a different means. The screen is still on, after all.
I know this sort of philosophizing can seem tedious. I was very careful not to say that the fact is “true” or “false”. Truth is not a virtue of facts–they simply are or are not, they “obtain”, we sometimes say, or don’t–while statements of fact may be true or false. But statements may also be many other things, like long or short, articulate or muddled, obnoxious or boring, controversial or conventional. Their truth value is only one of their many features. My point is that propositions are the sorts of things that are only true or false. Or rather, they have something else too: a meaning. And what they “mean” is the very state of things that makes them (or would make them) true.
A proposition is true or false of a fact. A fact is the truth or falsity of a proposition. That’s the sense which I want to claim that facts, like beliefs about them, are “propositional states”. They are states of affairs with “propositional content”. The belief and the fact (and the approximating statement of that fact, for that matter) have the proposition common. If I believe something and tell you, and if you believe me, then there are two beliefs, a statement (made by me to you) and a fact, but only one proposition, which is the common logical structure of them all.
A prose paragraph is usually a statement of fact along with reasons to believe it. It can be very useful to you as a writer to clarify the propositional content for yourself. Isolate it from the rhetorical flourish, if you will. Imagine the fact and it’s simplest statement. If I’m right about this, what you will now have in mind is the proposition. And it belongs as much to the fact as to the statement and the belief.