I read this article:


I just don't understand how someone can believe something is the case but is not true. It's like saying you believe unmarried men exist, but you don't believe in bachelors. If you are denying the existence of truth, then what exactly is truth? It seems like its denying the existence of something that is not truth - or at least how truth is used generally. A statement is true if its in accordance with fact or reality. How can someone agree with "snow is white" is a statement in accordance with fact or reality, but not agree that it is true?

  • 1
    Your confusion is understandable. On standard conventions, "A is B" is synonymous with "it is true that A is B" (T-schema). However, even without nihilism, there is some intuitive room between asserting something and declaring its truth. One can be prepared to act on something (assert it), while hesitating on its truth, a higher bar. If one wishes to explore this difference they would reject the T-schema. Nihilists take this to the extreme: not just hesitating on truth occasionally, but denying it wholesale. One motivation for this (Liggins's) is that it gives a solution to the Liar paradox.
    – Conifold
    Aug 14 at 9:35
  • But nihlists don’t deny everything - they just deny its truth value. So they won’t deny Snow is white, they will deny Snow is white is true. Which sounds stupid. Its like saying “I believe in the existence of water but I don’t believe in the existence of H2O”. Like what are they even saying? Aug 14 at 16:21
  • It is more like saying “I believe in the existence of water but that is not a truth, there are no truths”. As I said, even some non-nihilists have different standards for what they believe and for what they consider established as "truth". As long as the standards are different, saying what nihilists say can be made sense of.
    – Conifold
    Aug 14 at 17:41
  • What does truth mean for alethic nihlists? What is their solution to Liar Paradox? Aug 14 at 19:42
  • See Asay's Something is True for a survey of various alethic nihilists and their arguments, along with his objections. Liggins's solution to the Liar is explained on p. 3. Disallowing the passage from "(L) is not true" to "'(L) is not true’ is true" by the T-schema, blocks the derivation of the contradiction. For non-nihilist views of truth that still allow to reject the T-schema, see SEP, Pragmatic Theory of Truth.
    – Conifold
    Aug 15 at 8:22

1 Answer 1


How can someone agree with "snow is white" is a statement in accordance with fact or reality, but not agree that it is true?

For the nihilist, saying "snow is white" corresponds with reality, but calling it "true" mistakenly assumes there is some real property of "truth" that it possesses. They argue "truth" is an incoherent philosophical notion that should be abolished entirely.

In a sense, they are arguing we should stop using the word/concept "truth" at all when analyzing statements, and just talk about whether they correspond with reality, cohere with other beliefs, are useful models, etc.

It is a pretty counterintuitive viewpoint that requires rejecting common notions of truth and semantics. But the nihilist sees "truth" as a misleading philosophical term that should be eliminated from discourse altogether.

  • What does truth mean to alethic nihlist? In order to deny the existence of something, you need to clearly define it. Because what it seems like is that the alethic nihlist is denying something other than truth. Aug 14 at 16:25

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