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Mistakes of Reason: Practical Reasoning and the Fallacy of Accident

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For Aristotle the fallacy of accident arises from mistakes about being per accidens and not from accidental predication. Mistakes in perceiving per accidens come from our judgements about being per accidens and so commit that fallacy. Practical syllogisms have the same formal structure as being and perceiving per accidens. Moreover perceiving per accidens typically provides the minor premise for the practical syllogism as it makes it possible for us to know singular propositions, especially those about substances. Thus these minor premises may come about through fallacious reasoning, what today would be called reasoning via collateral information. On account of these foundations for the practical syllogism, even a person of practical wisdom will need a lot of luck to avoid mistakes.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Philosophy, Kutztown University, Kutztown, PA 19530-0730, USA, Email:


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