Consider the proposition "absolute truth does not exist". One can look at two cases:

1.This proposition is true

This case leads to a contradiction: if the proposition "absolute truth does not exist" is true, then that very proposition cannot be an absolute truth, either.

2.This proposition is false

In this case everything is consistent, there is at least one absulute truth, so there is room for the given proposition to be one.

One may conclude after analysing these two cases that absolute truth surely must exist.

Was that a legitimate proof? Where is the logical fallacy here?

  • 1
    What is the distinction been "truth" and "absolute truth"? Nov 2, 2013 at 23:40
  • I guess there is also a relative one? An obvious example may be "it's 8 a.m. now".
    – user4696
    Nov 2, 2013 at 23:57
  • So you think that those who deny absolute truth might merely think that the things which are true change with time? That seems reasonable, but perhaps not what you mean. (Even if so: perhaps they might not claim the same things about meta-logic — propositions about truth itself.) Nov 3, 2013 at 0:02
  • By an absolute truth I mean a proposition which is true, independent of circumstances one finds himself in, and even broadly, without this one existing (i.e. observing an outside world) at all. In other words, I think that an objective viewpoint on a given subject is a set of absolute truths about this very subject.
    – user4696
    Nov 3, 2013 at 0:17

1 Answer 1


It is easier to prove things false than to prove them true.

Compare Verificationism with Falsificationism. Basically, do we (a) verify that statements are true by making observations, or (b) make ingenious attempts to falsify statements and gain confidence when these attempts fail? Some folks who went with verificationism were the logical positivists; they wanted to say that only 'scientific' statements were meaningful. They failed. Just think about it: the very statement about what is meaningful isn't science, itself! Karl Popper argued that we should instead think in terms of coming up with ideas that say that lots of things can't happen (F = ma does this by e.g. eliminating F = ma2), and then trying all sorts of way to make the ideas fail. If we can't make them fail, we gain confidence that they're trustworthy. At least until you e.g. try to understand the perihelion procession of Mercury.

"absolute truth does not exist"

This statement clearly cannot be absolutely true. It is easy to falsify. Your error is to assume that we can therefore quickly jump to:

"absolute truth exists"

How do we verify this? It's not so clear that we can. How can we falsify it? That would be proving a negative, which is difficult if not impossible, except within some formal system.

P.S. You might enjoy the Münchhausen trilemma (Phil.SE question).

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .