I recently came across this reddit post: https://www.reddit.com/r/askphilosophy/comments/15chen5/comment/jtwnkkw/

I think it has something to do with denying the truth predicate without denying the state of affairs or something.

However, I don't really understand what the truth predicate is and what does it significantly mean to deny something is true. Like what does it mean to accept that "snow is white" but not accept that "snow is white is true"?

  • Not all of its meaning seems ta be problematic ... ta me. I'm me, you're you, but.
    – Hudjefa
    Commented Aug 5, 2023 at 18:01
  • @AgentSmith I don't understand Commented Aug 6, 2023 at 2:40
  • Sorry about that. I didn't mean to rub salt on anyone's wound so to speak. Learn from the masters ... some resources you might find helpful: Wikipedia, SEP, Google, Youtube, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP), Philosphy Fora.
    – Hudjefa
    Commented Aug 6, 2023 at 10:09

3 Answers 3


The truth predicate refers to ascribing "truth" to statements or propositions. For example, saying "It is true that snow is white."

Alethic nihilism is the philosophical position that there is no coherent truth predicate - that "truth" does not meaningfully apply to statements.An alethic nihilist would argue:

  • The concept of "truth" is inherently paradoxical and leads to contradictions (e.g. the Liar's Paradox: "This statement is false").

  • Therefore, the notion of truth is logically incoherent and cannot be consistently defined.

  • We should eliminate the linguistic concept of "truth" altogether as meaningless.

However, the alethic nihilist does not deny that reality or states of affairs exist. For example, they would agree that in reality, snow is white.

But they would argue that saying "It is true that snow is white" adds no additional meaningful content over just saying "Snow is white." Adding "is true" is pointless according to the alethic nihilist.

So basically what we got?

  • An alethic nihilist accepts that snow is white as a statement about reality.

  • But they reject that "Snow is white is true" has any coherent meaning, because the notion of "truth" itself is inherently flawed.

So it denies the existence of truth, while still accepting that things like "snow is white" accurately describe reality. The paradoxes of truth just render "truth" itself meaningless.

  • Isn't saying adding is true is pointless equation to deflationary theories or something? Plus, I feel like intuitively most people know adding is true is kind of unneccessary because if you are saying a state of affairs, you are implying that it is true. Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 0:01
  • if someone asks "Is it true that 1+1=2?", instead of repeating the whole sentence "1+1=2," you can just say "Yes, it's true." So, the truth predicate helps us to express ourselves more economically, but it doesn't add anything substantial to the meaning of a statement
    – user66933
    Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 0:07
  • So alethic nihlism states that truth and false is usually just used for agreement/disagreement right. But how does this differentiate from deflationary theories? I don’t really understand how truth is defined here. I often thought truth as synomonous with reality Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 0:10
  • deflationary theories of truth don't deny the existence of truth. Rather, they argue that the concept of truth doesn't need to be explained in terms of other, more fundamental concepts. According to deflationists, asserting that a statement is true is essentially just a repetition of the statement itself. So, while both alethic nihilism and deflationary theories of truth challenge traditional understandings of truth, they do so in different ways.
    – user66933
    Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 0:12
  • 1
    Ok so deflationary theory says that P is logically equivalent to T is the same as P. But isnt that the definition of logically equivalent. Then alethic nihlism states that P is logically equivalent to T is a meaningless concept but what does that practically mean? Also whats the whole point of the discussion regarding beliefs? I’m guessing in alethic nihlism, pretty much everything stays the same. For some arbitrary reason, you aren’t allowed to say true and false and have to use sysnonyms correct and incorrect for whatever weird reason. Im not sure Im understanding it correctly Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 5:49

Alright, let's break this down. First let's talk about this "truth predicate" business. It's basically a fancy way of saying something's true. Like, instead of "The Yankees are the best," you'd say "It's true that the Yankees are the best." Same thing, right?

But here's where alethic nihilism steps up to the plate. These folks, they're saying there ain't no such thing as a truth predicate. So, "It's true that the Yankees are the best" doesn't fly with them. It's not that they're saying the Yankees ain't the best, they just don't get on board with this whole "it's true" thing.

You're probably thinking, "Wait a minute, how does that even work?" We're always saying stuff's true. If I say "The Yankees are the best," and they really are the best (which they are, don't even start with me), it feels like a no-brainer to say my statement's true. But these alethic nihilist types? They're not having it. They'll tell you "The Yankees are the best," full stop. No need for this truth stuff.

Why would anyone think like this? Well, it helps them dodge some tricky philosophic traps, like this thing called the Liar Paradox ("This statement is false"). If there's no such thing as a truth predicate, bam, problem solved.

But let's be real, this ain't a popular view. A lot of philosophers think truth's a big deal, not something you can just toss out the window.

  • So alethic nihlists arbitrarily just dont like using the word truth? What if you use snyonyms? Like isnt truth synonoymous with reality? Like just say it is the case that Yankees are the best instead of truth. What would the substitution be for liar paradox? Also just clarifying but alethic nihlists hate both truth and false. What would alethic nihlists do in a true/false exam? Can alethic nihlists do formal logic? Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 17:26
  • Isnt truth = fact btw Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 18:58
  • I think I may gotten it @JustCal. Basically alethic nihlism is related to philosophy of language. Alethic nihlists just do not like saying "is true" or "is false" because it could lead to nonsensical statements (like "this sentence is false"). Rather, they say stuff without appending any additional stuff, like "it is the case that" or "it is true that" etc. even though it works in many sentences because it doesn't work for paradoxes like the liar's paradox. Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 4:19
  • ...@JustCal So they would say "Snow is white" but not "it is true that snow is white". But basically, every proposition can be pretty much true or false. They just won't use the "is true" because it can be used in some cases to create nonsense. So basically, the Liar's paradox ("this statement is false") would reduce down to ("this is statement is") which is meaningless, which effectively makes the Liar's paradox meaningless garbage. Am I right? Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 4:19

That a concept can be used to construct a paradox doesn't imply that the concept is useless. If that was the case, then the word "and" would need to be jettisoned because one can construct many paradoxes using it... 🤔

Rather, the concept of truth (or rather its opposite, falsehood) cannot be used reflexively. One cannot say: "I always say false things" and not fall in a paradox.

This is precisely why the proposition "Truth does not exist" is self-contradictory. One can always ask in return: "Is that true, though?"

It is not the concept of truth that is self-contradictory, but its negation by alethic nihlism.

I don't think anyone can dispose of the concept of truth. It's part of our basic operating system, as creatures capable of symbolic representation. You need a concept to describe the distance between a description of reality and reality itself (or phenomena thereof, for Kantiens including myself). So perhaps affirming "P is true" doesn't add much to affirming "P", but if you turn it to a negative, it does. "P is not true" adds a lot to "P". Even "P is not always true, or not entirely true" adds nuance. Saying "P is true in such and such conditions, but false in others" can be very powerful. So we need this "metric", this "dimension", this gradient going from wholly false to always true.

People can lie. What is the status of a frequent liar in alethic nihlism? Isn't all this gibberish pseudo-phylosophy a breeding ground for post-truthism à la Trump?

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