A New Puzzle About Aristotelian Accidents



I present a new puzzle that concerns Aristotle’s accidents. This puzzle arises when applying a basic requirement of accidentality to the variety of cases Aristotle provides. In short, Aristotle seems to offer, now the thought that a is accidental to b, and now that b is accidental to a; but if accidentality is asymmetric, as it seems to be, then a’s being accidental to b implies that b is not accidental to a. One might offer a schooled Aristotelian solution, allowing that while a is in a sense accidental to b, b is accidental to a in a quite different sense. But, as I will argue, this solution does not work, for there are cases in which a and b are accidental to each other in the same sense. Ultimately, the solution to the new puzzle relies not on distinguishing between senses of ‘accident,’ but rather on unearthing a new feature of accidentality: accidentality is contextual, in a sense to be defined in the paper.


Aristotleaccidentscontextualismontologyindifference reasoning
  • Year: 2021
  • Volume: 4 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 1–17
  • DOI: 10.5334/met.68
  • Submitted on 5 Apr 2021
  • Accepted on 29 Jul 2021
  • Published on 31 Aug 2021
  • Peer Reviewed