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1. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 2
Photo of Elizabeth Anscombe
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2. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 2
John Haldane ACPQ Special Issue on Elizabeth Anscombe: Editor's Introduction
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3. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 2
Anthony Kenny Elizabeth Anscombe at Oxford
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Anscombe first became famous in Oxford for her opposition to the awarding of an honorary degree to President Truman. Very soon thereafter, however, the publication of Intention established her as an important figure in British philosophy. “Modern Moral Philosophy” marked her difference from contemporary Oxford moral philosophers and introduced a set of ideas that subsequently had great influence. At Oxford she was a singular figure but extremely welcoming to graduate students. While she gave much time to the translation, interpretation, and teaching of Wittgenstein’s philosophy, she also doubted its compatibility with the Catholicism, to which she had converted and to which she was staunchly committed.
4. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 2
Arthur Gibson Anscombe, Cambridge, and the Challenges of Wittgenstein
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In the decade between Elizabeth Anscombe’s arrival in Cambridge in 1942 and Wittgenstein’s death in 1951 she became in turn a student, a friend, and then a chosen translator of his work. His choice of her as translator and literary heir speaks for itself, but it is not widely appreciated that the position she came to occupy contrasted with aspects of his Cambridge life prior to her taking up a research studentship at Newnham College. Anscombe came to be a profound and original philosopher. Perhaps Wittgenstein’s engagement with her presupposed an inkling of her qualitative gifts later attested to by Donald Davidson, who estimated her short monograph Intention to be “the most important treatment of action since Aristotle.” It is impressive that while living amid the throes of WWII, giving birth to a large family, often engaging with forces surrounding Wittgenstein, and holding her own with him, she was simultaneously crafting her own philosophical progress. Twenty years after his death she was appointed to the Chair of Philosophy at Cambridge that he had occupied when they first met.
5. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 2
Rachael Wiseman The Intended and Unintended Consequences of Intention
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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.
6. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 2
Candace Vogler Nothing Added: Intention §§19 and 20
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Although most work in contemporary Anglophone philosophical action theory understands Elizabeth Anscombe’s monograph on Intention as the work that inaugurates the field, action theory often operates by setting out to understand intentional action by investigating the psychological antecedents of intention action. Now, Anscombe has no quarrel with moral psychology. Intention is a work of moral psychology, but it is a kind of moral psychology in which we attend to the act of deliberately making something the case in order to understand having a mind to make something the case. The more usual approach takes things the other way around. Anscombe attempted to ward off such approaches in Intention. If the arguments of §19 are any good, for example, they ought to tell against the mind-first approach in contemporary Anglophone ethics and action theory. If the arguments of §20 work, then they ought to dispel any sense that Anscombe is prone to behaviorism. Together, the arguments in §§19 and 20 are meant to clear the ground necessary for work on practical knowledge. In this essay, I give a reading of these difficult, crucial sections of Anscombe’s monograph in order to explore her arguments.
7. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 2
John Zeis Anscombe and the Metaphysics of Human Action
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In “Causality and Determination,” Anscombe rejects the two received opinions on the nature of causality in the modern philosophical tradition. She rejects the Humean conception of universal generalization based on the constant conjunction in experience of cause and effect, and she also rejects the notion that causality entails a necessary connection between cause and effect. As an alternative, she suggests that the core notion of causality is one of the derivativeness of the effect from the cause. Her consideration of causality ranges generally over all types of causality, but I believe that the most significant implication of her position is in application to the causality of human action. In this paper, I will articulate what I take to be that position.
8. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 2
T. A. Cavanaugh Anscombe, Thomson, and Double Effect
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In “Modern Moral Philosophy” Anscombe argues that the distinction between intention of an end or means and foresight of a consequentially comparable outcome proves crucial in act-evaluation. The deontologist J. J. Thomson disagrees. She asserts that Anscombe mistakes the distinction’s moral import; it bears on agent-evaluation, not act-evaluation. I map out the contours of this dispute. I show that it implicates other disagreements, some to be expected and others not to be expected. Amongst the expected, one finds the ethicists’ accounts of action and understanding of how agent-assessment relates to act-assessment. Amongst the unexpected, one finds the moralists’ views about the possibility of self-imposed moral dilemmas and allied positions concerning temporal aspects of “ought implies can.” Anscombe’s employment of the distinction in act-evaluation withstands close scrutiny; Thomson’s denial of it does not.
9. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 2
Sarah Broadie Practical Truth in Aristotle
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An interpretation is offered of the Aristotelian concept of “practical truth” in the wake of Anscombe’s very interesting exegesis. Her own interpretation is considered and its merits noted, but a question is raised as to its plausibility as an account of what Aristotle himself intended in speaking of “truth that is practical” (he alētheia praktikē).
10. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 90 > Issue: 2
Cora Diamond Asymmetries in Thinking about Thought: Anscombe and Wiggins
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My essay is concerned with two kinds of case of asymmetries in thinking about thought. If one says that there is nothing else to think but that so and so, one may mean either that there are no considerations which could make it reasonable to think the opposite, or that to think anything else is to be in a muddle, not really to be thinking anything. A case of the latter sort is important in Elizabeth Anscombe’s criticism of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, while a case of the former sort is important for David Wiggins’s thought about truth in ethics. After setting out the issues, I examine Anscombe’s view and situate it in relation to ideas of Frege’s and Wittgenstein’s. I then turn to ethics and consider the relation between Anscombe’s view and that of Wiggins.