Volume 10, Issue 1, 2013
A Journal of Analytic Scholasticism
Derek von Barandy
How to Save Aristotle from Modal Collapse
On Jaakko Hintikka’s understanding of Aristotle’s modal thought, Aristotle is committed to a version of the Principle of Plenitude, which is the thesis that no genuine possibility will go unactualized in an infinity of time. If in fact Aristotle endorses the Principle of Plenitude, everything becomes necessary. Despite the strong evidence that Aristotle indeed accepts that Principle of Plenitude, there are key texts in which Aristotle seems to contradict it. On Hintikka’s final word on the matter, Aristotle either endorses the Principle of Plentitude or Aristotle is simply inconsistent. Without challenging Hintikka’s interpretation of the relevant texts, I show how Aristotle may accept a form of the Principle of Plenitude that allows for genuine unactualized possibilities in the world. What allows me to reconcile the
seemingly inconsistent data is to show how Aristotle is only committed to a de re version of the Principle of Plenitude. After I lay out my proposal, I show how it opens up new ways in which we might understand Aristotle’s attempt to reject fatalism in his De interpretatione 9.