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How the Fallacy of Accident Got Its Name (and Lost It)

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I offer an explanation of why the fallacy of “accident” is so called. By ‘accident’ here, Aristotle does not mean accidental predication but being per accidens. Understood in this way, the fallacy of accident can be analyzed in terms of the rules that Aristotle gives for being per accidens. The fallacy of accident lost the original justification for its name in the late Greek period. It became associated with accidental predication and not with being per accidens. The fallacy was then solved by construing it syllogistically so that the paralogisms became invalid through not having a universal major premise. This medieval analysis became the dominant approach in the medieval period but has led to confusion over the fallacy of accident in millennia of logic books. I end by considering how to formulate the fallacy of accident more fruitfully in modern terms via Aristotle’s original approach.

Affiliations: 1: Kutztown University of


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