Facts are supposed to be the grounds for truths. However, consider a conjunctive statement like "Paris is in France and New York City is in the USA". What fact grounds that? Is there such a thing as a "conjunctive" fact? Also, a similar question can be asked for disjunctive statements. Anyway, I just want to know, have any philosophers talked about this, and if so, can I see some texts where this is discussed?

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    But what is the supposed issue with concatenating statements with "and" or "or"? Isn't the combination just grounded by the grounding of each component, with standard rules of logic for the combined fact?
    – Frank
    Apr 26, 2023 at 13:35
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    Issue similar to that regarding "negative" facts Apr 26, 2023 at 13:55
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    Philosophers do talk about this, see SEP, The Inner Structure of Facts:"There is, as we have seen, an issue as to whether facts are complex entities or not, and as to how (if at all) the various facts are composed and as to what composition means here... A substantialist may either deny or accept that there is an operation of conjunction on facts."
    – Conifold
    Apr 26, 2023 at 21:03

2 Answers 2


I don't see why it should be problematic to suppose that there are conjunctive and disjunctive facts. To some extent it will depend on exactly what you take a 'fact' to be. There are different theories of what constitutes a fact, but we may reasonably suppose that a fact is a true proposition or what grounds a true proposition.

Take the simple case of perception. If I see a red circle, I am perceiving the conjunction that the thing I see is red and it is circular. If I see a small furry animal bounding across a field, I may be unable to identify it exactly because of the distance or the short time that it remains visible, but I may be quite justified in believing disjunctively that it is either a rabbit or a hare. In both cases, a single observation grounds the conjunction or disjunction.

More generally, what counts as a conjunction or a disjunction depends on the resources of your language. Suppose Alice speaks a dialect that has words for 'brother' and 'sister' but no word for 'sibling'. For Alice, to say that someone has a brother is a simple proposition, but to say a person has a sibling can only be expressed disjunctively: they have a brother or a sister. Now suppose Bob speaks a dialect that has a word for 'sibling', but no words for 'brother' and 'sister'. For Bob, to say a person has a siblling is simple, but to say a person has a brother can only be expressed conjunctively as male sibling.

So, propositions are quite flexible as to their conjunctive and disjunctive structure. This suggests that it is a good idea to be flexible about what constitutes a fact and avoid extreme forms of logical atomism that suppose that there is some universe of completely independent facts.

  • There is a school of thought going back, at least, to Russell that grounding should have explanatory value, and "even on the most fine-grained view of facts, it is not obvious why a linguistic property of 'φ' – such as its being disjunctive, conjunctive, existential or universal – should be of any relevance to the metaphysical question of why the fact that φ holds... There are serious reasons for being sceptical of Logicism... that logical form can be a guide to ground" Merlo, Disjunction and the logic of grounding.
    – Conifold
    Apr 27, 2023 at 20:08

Your question can be deflated in the following way. 'Conjunctive fact' is just another way of referring to 'two facts'. A disjunctive fact is just another was of referring to 'only two possibilities'. Neither poses any fundamental problem.

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