In the Latin word “contingentia” is where the etymological origin of the term contingency is found. We can also establish that it is made up of the following elements:
• The prefix “with”, which is used to indicate “meeting”.
• The verb “tangere”, which can be translated as “to touch”.
• The suffix “-entia”, which is equivalent to “agent quality”.
Contingency usually refers to something that is likely to happen, although there is no certainty about it. The contingency, therefore, is what is possible or what can, or not, materialize.
Thus, for example, it is frequent that certain countries or governments proceed to establish contingency plans to be able to face situations that are possible that could happen. A clear example of this is that from Germany it is rumored that contingency measures are being created to be able to face the possible exit of Greece from the European Union.
We cannot forget either that in Argentina there is an organization that responds to the name of the Directorate of Agriculture and Climate Contingencies (DACC). It depends on the Ministry of Production, Technology and Innovation of the Government of Mendoza and has several equally significant objectives:
• Provide meteorological information so that it can be used correctly within the agricultural field, which is useful to locate and register crops.
• Determine the damages that can be suffered due to the aforementioned meteorological conditions in agricultural spaces.
• Develop and implement contingency plans for different weather situations.
• Offer a wide variety of services and products such as maps of risk of frost or hail by crop, defense programs against hail, daily weather forecast, advice to producers, agricultural solidarity fund and compensation for climatic contingencies…
Another way of understanding the notion of contingency is as an event whose realization is not foreseen. A contingency, in this sense, can be spontaneous or caused.
The usual thing is that, when a person faces a contingency, they have to modify their expected behavior or develop a specific action, motivated by the irruption of the contingency in question. Suppose a family travels by car from their house to the beach and plans to reach their destination at 4:00 p.m. In the middle of the road, the car suffers a contingency: a tire is punctured. The driver, therefore, will be forced to stop driving and replace the tire before continuing with the journey. The scheduled arrival time, therefore, will not be met due to the contingency.
The idea of contingency is cause for reflection in the field of philosophy. The thinkers of this branch of science affirm that the contingent is not necessary, but it is possible. This, however, does not indicate that all that is possible or all that is not necessary is contingent.
Differentiating between contingencies and necessary things is one of the keys to philosophical reflection on the concept. The contingent, in short, is something that can be but which, in turn, may not be.