Elizabeth Anscombe

22 Jun, 2023 170 Ethics

In 1956 Oxford University awarded an honorary degree to the former US president Harry S. Truman for his role in ending the Second World War. One philosopher, Elizabeth Anscombe (1919 - 2001), objected strongly. She argued that although dropping nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki may have ended the fighting, it amounted to the murder of tens of thousands of innocent civilians. It was therefore an irredeemably immoral act. And there was something fundamentally wrong with a moral philosophy that didn’t see that. This was the starting point for a body of work that changed the terms in which philosophers discussed moral and ethical questions in the second half of the twentieth century. A leading student of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, Anscombe combined his insights with rejuvenated interpretations of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas that made these ancient figures speak to modern issues and concerns. Anscombe was also instrumental in making action, and the question of what it means to intend to do something, a leading area of philosophical work.

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  • Rachael Wiseman 2 episodes
    Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Liverpool
  • Constantine Sandis No other episodes
    Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hertfordshire, and Director of Lex Academic
  • Roger Teichmann No other episodes
    Lecturer in Philosophy at St Hilda's College, University of Oxford

Reading list

  • Intention
    G.E.M. Anscombe (Harvard University Press, 2000) Google Books →
  • Mr Truman's Degree
    G.E.M. Anscombe (privately published pamphlet, 1957) Google Books →
  • Modern Moral Philosophy
    G.E.M. Anscombe ( 1958)
  • The Women are up to Something: How Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Mary Midgley, and Iris Murdoch Revolutionized Ethics
    Benjamin J.B. Lipscomb (Oxford University Press, 2021) Google Books →
  • Metaphysical Animals: How Four Women Brought Philosophy Back to Life
    Clare Mac Cumhaill and Rachael Wiseman (Chatto, 2022) Google Books →
  • The Owl of Minerva: A Memoir
    Mary Midgley (Routledge, 2007) Google Books →
  • Anscombe's Intention: A Guide
    John Schwenkler (Oxford University Press, 2019) Google Books →
  • The Philosophy of Elizabeth Anscombe
    Roger Teichmann (Oxford University Press, 2008) Google Books →
  • The Oxford Handbook of Elizabeth Anscombe
    Roger Teichmann (ed.) (Oxford University Press, 2022) Google Books →
  • Logos and Life: Essays on Mind, Action, Language and Ethics
    Roger Teichmann (Anthem Press, 2022)
  • Are There Any Intrinsically Unjust Acts?
    Roger Teichmann (Zeitschrift fur Ethik und Moralphilosophie, Oct. 2018)
  • A Memoir: People and Places
    Mary Warnock (Duckworth, 2002) Google Books →
  • Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Anscombe's Intention
    Rachael Wiseman (Routledge, 2017) Google Books →
  • Philosophical Investigations
    Ludwig Wittgenstein (eds. P. M. S. Hacker and Joachim Schulte) (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009) Google Books →

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Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. In 1956, Oxford University awarded an honorary degree to the former US President Harry S Truman for his role in ending the Second World War.