Is there a name of the view that no statement is true? Such a person who holds that view believes that statement are meaningless sequences of marks on paper or a computer monitor and can't be true, anymore than a pen is true or a table is true. Such a person does believe that e.g., 2+2=4, but they don't believe that "2+2=4" is true. Is there a name in the literature for this view?

  • It is maybe sophism — one of Gorgias’ extant texts makes a point similar to this (I.e., nothing is really knowable, and even if it were, it’s incommunicable.) – Joseph Weissman Jan 11 at 5:04
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    You seem to be confusing truth with meaning. To hold that a statement is true or false one has to consider it meaningful, otherwise it is neither. Radical skeptics believe that every statement is doubtful. Trivialists believe that every (meaningful) statement is both true and false, and that is as close as you get without being unintelligible. If everything is meaningless then nothing can be believed, disbelieved or even talked about. – Conifold Jan 11 at 7:29

You seem to be talking about “truth” in the isomorphic [1:1] word-world [or world-concept] correspondence theory's sense of [scientific] realism. See: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-realism/#AntiFoilForScieReal. And the problem with that position is most often purported to be that we simply do not have access to the “view from nowhere/everywhere" – commonly called the “god's-eye” POV. We cannot stand outside our concepts and perceptions to pass judgment about whether or not they comport/correspond to the way the world "really" is. Whether they are "true."

So we can never know whether or when the 1:1 correspondence between our word/concepts and the world is actually ever achieved. It may in fact be that the way “the world” is in actuality, (rather than merely our construct of it using the tools we have [eg. senses, reason, imagination]), makes, for instance, “2+2=4” true) but, we can/could never, strictly speaking, “know” it.

Hence, it is primarily against this variety of the concept of “truth” to which the epistemological nihilism/radical skepticism referenced in @GettnDer's answer above is traditionally deployed. The solution to the ipso facto unsolvable puzzle created by the correspondence theory of truth, has been to dissolve it instead, by redefining the concept "truth." See, for instance, the the Semantic Theory of truth, the Deflationary Theory of truth, the Coherence Theory of truth, and the Pragmatic Theory of truth (discussed, inter alia, here: https://iep.utm.edu/truth/).

Or compare “realism” (as discussed in the SEP citation above), to the various forms of "anti realism" also discussed therein. For instance, consider, in epistemology, or the philosophy of science, that constructivism is a view which maintains that [scientific] knowledge ([justified]true belief]) is literally constructed by the [scientific] community, that who seeks to measure and construct models [ideal representations] of the natural world, rather than attempt to determine what the world is "really" like. That is, truth is “created,” not "discovered to exist." See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constructivism.

One of the consequences of this shift in stance is that while knowledge used to be defined simply as "true belief," 'it is now an epistemic concept defined as "jusified true belief." Which has given rise to its own set of issues (See the Gettier problems: https://iep.utm.edu/gettier/).

It might also be instructive here to consider modern philosophies shift from epistemological internalism to epistemological externalism/reliablism. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internalism_and_externalism#Epistemology and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reliabilism).


You might be looking for Epistemological nihilism or Epistemological skepticism, but as other pointed out Radical Skepticism and Solopism are ideologically close positions.

Epistemological nihilism is a form of philosophical skepticism according to which knowledge does not exist, or, if it does exist, it is unattainable for human beings. It should not be confused with epistemological fallibilism, according to which all knowledge is uncertain.

As I understand it, Solopism is specific to thinking your existence is the only thing that is certain (although you can further argue that only doubt is certain, as the self could also be an illusion).

The distinction between Epistemological nihilism and Epistemological/Radical Skepticism being about certainty rather than the fundamental existence of truth.

  • Note that reference in the comment above was to sophism, not solipsism. – gonzo Jan 12 at 21:56
  • Is this view called alethic nihilism? Because I googled it and found that alethic nihilism is the view that nothing is true. – user107952 Jan 12 at 22:26
  • woops my bad i misread sophism – GettnDer Jan 14 at 4:59
  • Such a person "believe that e.g., 2+2=4, but they don't believe that "2+2=4" is true" can be summarized as one internally treats existence != truth, thus effectively reject (or never learn or hear) the Correspondence Theory of Truth in traditional western metaphysics. Normally within philosophy's circle, most people regard existence == truth as a truthmaker/truthbearer pair. After subscribing to Coherence Theory of Truth, one can regard "2+2=4" is true if one believes 2+2=4 even there's no ontology mapping. So philosophically the math/statement anti-realist person above may not be a nihilist. – Double Knot Mar 31 at 20:38

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