I've been reading up on epistemology, after having studied a bit of logic. Given that, I am in a good (or at least better) position to understand a proposition, and it's properties. One such property is that a proposition can be reduced to proposition variables, for e.g, p, q, p and q, if p then q etc.

Anyway, factual propositions, according to the britannica, do not share that particular property, in contrast to logical propositions all of which do. As quoted, ''the semantic and syntactic features of factual propositions make it impossible to reduce them to logical truths''. Yet, propositions are defined as statements with a truth value, separate from all the other statements like 'come here!', 'how are you?', 'am fine', 'space ducks', 'quack' etc.

On a side note, 'factual propositions' seem to be a poor choice of words, since they seem to be quite the opposite, but hey I could be wrong.

Source: http://www.britannica.com/topic/epistemology

  • Hey Virmaior, I've added the source material :) May 30, 2016 at 12:25
  • 1
    Okay, upvote from me. I'm not primarily an epistemologist and am unfamiliar with this particular term.
    – virmaior
    May 30, 2016 at 12:26
  • You can see Propositions: they are "the primary bearers of truth and falsity." This means that we can meaningfully ask about the truth-value of a proposition (in contrast with e..g.: imperatives). May 30, 2016 at 13:04
  • What is a "factual proposition" ? We can say that a fact is a true proposition or that a proposition is true when corresponds" to a *fact. May 30, 2016 at 13:06
  • I think that the quote is linked to Leibniz's distinction between Truths of Reason and Truths of Fact. The first one are necessary truths, i.e. - according to a modern point of view - logical truths. A truth of fact, instead, is a truth that is so by way of some "contingent" fact. May 30, 2016 at 13:12

1 Answer 1


The entry cited does not claim that a factual proposition cannot be formulated using logical terms. Rather, it makes a distinction between logical propositions which express logical truths, and factual propositions which express empirical truths (or falsehoods). Alternatively you might say that the latter express facts.

A logical truth is not just a truth that can be formulated in logic. A logical truth is something that is true in virtue of its logical form. An example given in the entry is:

All husbands are married

Which, understood as saying "If something is married and it is male, then it is married", can be formulated as:

If (p and q) then p

Which is clearly true for whatever 'p' and 'q'. It is therefore a logical truth.

On the other hand, the following would be a factual proposition:

All husbands are happy

This may be true or false, but in any case its truth does not depend solely on its logical form.

  • Ah, I see, so the property here is all about form, and is different from necessary and contingent truths, which speaks of circumstance, or, more technically, the validity vs soundness, sweet :) May 30, 2016 at 14:01

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