Volume 90, Issue 2, Spring 2016
The Intended and Unintended Consequences of Intention
This paper examines the context in which Anscombe wrote Intention—focusing on the years 1956–1958. At this time Anscombe was engaged in a number of battles against her university, her colleagues, and, ultimately, “the spirit of the age,” which included her public opposition to Oxford University’s decision to award Harry Truman an honorary degree. Intention, I show, must be understood as a product of the explicitly ethical and political debates in which Anscombe was involved. Understanding the intention with which she wrote Intention suggests that we need radically to rethink its nature and character, and that the consequences of the book for work in ethics—consequences Anscombe foresaw and intended—are yet to be understood.