REVISION: Conjunction of Evidence and Multivalent Logic

By Kevin M. Clermont

Classical logic and its attendant probability theory produce in law the troublesome conjunction paradox. They tell us that the conjoined likelihood of independent factual elements equals the product of each element’s likelihood. Meanwhile, the law requires only that each element of a cause of action meets the standard of proof. The seeming paradox is that if the cause entails more than one element, no assurance exists that the conjunction of the elements’ likelihoods will meet the standard of proof. Multivalent logic, however, resolves this conjunction paradox. It maintains that the partial truth produced by factfinding fundamentally differs from the estimated probability of a fact becoming absolutely true as in a lottery. For elements found as partial truths, the elements’ conjoined likelihood logically equals the least likely element’s likelihood. So if each element meets the standard of proof, the conjunction of the cause of action’s elements does too. The law very clearly tells ...

Kevin M. Clermont Robert D. Ziff Professor of Law
Photo of Kevin Clermont

Contact Information

Cornell Law School
204 Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901

Phone: (607) 255-5189
Fax: (607) 255-7193


Carolyn Headlam
Cornell Law School
315 Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901

Professional Biography

Kevin Clermont is a specialist in the procedural aspects of litigation. After his graduation from Harvard Law School, Mr. Clermont clerked for the late Hon. Murray Gurfein of the Southern District of New York, and then spent two years in private practice as an associate at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton.

Since joining the Cornell Law School Faculty in 1974, Professor Clermont has authored a good number of books on civil procedure. His coauthored casebook, Materials for a Basic Course in Civil Procedure, is regarded as a model of careful legal craftsmanship and also a thoughtful introduction for students.


A.B., summa cum laude, Princeton University, 1967
J.D., magna cum laude, Harvard Law School, 1971