Her mother was a headmistress and her father went on to head a department at Dulwich College. She was awarded a Second Class in her honour moderations in and albeit it with reservations on the part of her Ancient History examiners [6] a First in her degree finals in She remained a lifelong devout Catholic. He also became a student of Wittgenstein and a distinguished British academic philosopher. Together they had three sons and four daughters.

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At the time of her birth her father was serving in the British Army. The family later returned to England where Allen Anscombe resumed his career as a schoolmaster. Anscombe attended the Sydenham School, graduating in , and went on to St. After her graduation in she remained for a while at St. In she was offered a Research Fellowship at Somerville College, Oxford and then was appointed to a teaching Fellowship there in She remained at Cambridge until her retirement in In , at Oxford, she met the philosopher Peter Geach.

They were both receiving instruction from the same Dominican priest. They were married in They had three sons and four daughters. Anscombe did not avoid controversy. She also courted controversy with some of her colleagues by coming out in print against contraception see below.

Anscombe continued to produce original work beyond her retirement. Peter Geach, for example, reported in Analysis that she had constructed a novel paradox Geach , —7.

Anscombe died in Cambridge on 5 January She attended his lectures and became one of his most devoted students. When she returned to Oxford she continued to travel to Cambridge to study with Wittgenstein. She also translated a number of his other works. The relation between cause and effect has been notoriously difficult to analyze. Causation does not involve determination, or necessity. Since the radioactive decay was not sufficient for this effect, the case tells against viewing causes as sufficient conditions.

There is no general causal connection between cause and effect. This challenge to the Humean account would turn out to be very influential—it helped push philosophers towards the development of probabilistic accounts of causation to account for the above type of case. In terms of categorization, she falls into the singularist camp on causation, since she further rejected the Humean view that causation is not observable in a single instance.

On her view the particular cause produces the particular effect. Anscombe produced examples from ordinary language that seemed to show that we do perceive causation. Such examples are abundant. The critic could point out that when we utter expressions such as this we are speaking loosely. Rather, the close, probing, examination of a process alone cannot account for causation. Her work on causation demonstrated reliance on ordinary language methodology.

Anscombe also directly contributed to the development of key themes in ordinary language philosophy itself—she influenced its content, not simply reliance on it methodologically. This is evident in her work on first-person expression. Again, this discussion of self-expression would have a great deal of influence in philosophy of language and mind.

How indexicals work and function in language, the nature of self-knowledge and self-consciousness, and self-identity. Indeed, it continues to be a standard point of reference for those working in action theory and philosophical psychology. Like Wittgenstein, Anscombe presented her ideas in succinct points and numbered sections. However, Anscombe developed her own distinctive approach to philosophical analysis.

Intention is a work on the nature of agency through an understanding of intention. The three she notes are: A is xing intentionally. One of the really interesting questions she considers has to do with the difference between intentions and predictions. Both are future directed. Both seem to require a belief that a future state of affairs will occur. If I intend to do y must it be the case that I, all things considered, want y to come about; or merely that I all things considered want to do y?

The knocking of the glass off the table was not intentional, though it was caused by his being startled. That is not intentional though. Further, on her view intentional action is prior to intention to act. That is, to understand what it is to intend to act one must understand intentional action. Anscombe herself uses the example of someone who is sawing a plank. We get the claim that intentions are necessary for intentional action.

Nonetheless there can be unintentional action, but it will be intentional under some other description. Davidson, however, disagreed with Anscombe on the issue of reasons as causes. Davidson, unlike Anscombe, argued that reason explanation of an action is also a kind of causal explanation of the action. When one explains an action one cites the belief and the desire that caused the action.

The reason, in the sense cited by Anscombe, corresponds to what the agent desired. When I go to the ice cream shop to get an ice cream cone I desire an ice cream cone and I believe that I can get one at the ice cream shop.

This is what causes the intentional action of going to the ice cream shop. George Wilson follows Anscombe in that he too believes that an explanation of an action in terms of the reasons for the action is grounded in the intention behind the action Wilson This will prove problematic when we look at the connection between philosophy of psychology and moral psychology. Austin, Anscombe is credited with a clear explication of it. This turned out to be important in speech act theory since speech acts exemplify one direction of fit.

When one utters a command, for example, one is not trying to describe the world or make an assertion that is supposed to match with what is in the world. Rather, the point is to bring about a state of affairs in the world. Now it is clear that the relation of this list to the things he actually buys is one and the same whether his wife gave him the list or it is his own list; and that there is a different relation where a list is made by a detective following him about.

If he made the list itself, it was an expression of intention; if his wife gave it to him, it has the role of an order. What then is the identical relation to what happens, in the order and the intention, which is not shared by the record? Beliefs describe the world, desires are not descriptive. Desires effect change in the world. Thus, desires themselves are not true or false, though they may be based on beliefs which are true or false.

Thus intuitive way of demarcating the function of belief and desire helps to clarify different theories of normativity and what is at stake between those theories. A desire based theory, for example, might not be committed to truth or falsity of moral claims.

This is important, too, in accounting for differences between speculative, or theoretical, knowledge and reasoning and practical knowledge and reasoning.

Anscombe applied her views on intention to clarify her own positions on controversial claims, such as the condemnation of contraception. Many charged the Church with inconsistency, since the intention to not get pregnant during intercourse is present in both cases. Anscombe claims the intentions differ. CC, Her claim is that the further intentions that accompany these actions are the same, but that the kind of intentional act one is performing in each case differs in a very significant way.

When one engages in sexual intercourse using contraceptives one has the intention of rendering oneself infertile, one is not acting with the intention of engaging in normal sexual intercourse, just at an infertile time. Even though both types of action have the further aim of limiting family size, the basic intentions are different.

That is, the intentions that define the acts themselves are different. The perversion of the sex act in marriage is, in this one way, like writing a forged check for a good cause, she claims.

Needless to say, this view was enormously controversial. Bernard Williams and Michael Tanner criticized her argument for failing to consider one of her own theses—that actions, including sorts of actions, can fall under a variety of descriptions. But, they argue, she cannot do this convincingly. They argue that couples who employ the rhythm method are taking steps to achieve infertility just as those who take contraception are.

Those steps are central to understanding the acts themselves, not simply the further purpose of the acts. Her primary charge in the article is that, as secular approaches to moral theory, they are without foundation.

In the past God occupied that role, but systems that dispense with God as part of the theory are lacking the proper foundation for meaningful employment of those concepts. There are two ways to read this article. The first is to read it straightforwardly as an indictment of the moral theories prevalent in the s and a subsequent argument for the development of an alternative theory of morality that does not postulate a legislator, but then also does not try to keep the defunct legislative structure that naturally falls out of religiously based ethics.

On this view we need to develop an alternative that is based on moral psychology, moral virtue, facts of human nature, and an account of the good for humans based on this approach. It has no reasonable sense outside a law conception of ethics; they are not going to maintain such a conception; and you can do ethics without it, as is shown by the example of Aristotle. This quite naturally then leads to an emphasis on developing a virtue ethics that would be distinct from the modern approaches Anscombe attacks in MMP.

This is the prevalent reading of MMP and the reason why it is widely interpreted as encouraging a virtue ethical approach to moral theory. An alternative reading is as a modus tollens argument intended to establish the superiority of a religious based ethics. For more on a skeptical reading of MMP, see Crisp Assume for the sake of argument there is no God, and religiously based moral theory is incorrect.

An alternative would be to develop a kind of naturalized approach where we carefully consider moral psychology as it relates to the human good. However, this approach itself is problematic. The prospect of articulating a complete and plausible account of the human good along these lines is dim.

Here is the straightforward interpretation in simple modus ponens form: 1 If religiously based ethics is false, then virtue ethics is the way moral philosophy ought to be developed.


Book Review: Reading Wittgenstein with Anscombe: Going on to Ethics by Cora Diamond

Reading Wittgenstein with Anscombe: Going on to Ethics. Cora Diamond. Harvard University Press. Wittgenstein aimed to revolutionise philosophical thinking by moving beyond uses of philosophical language in which recurring problems present themselves.


Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe

Proposition 6 says that any logical sentence can be derived from a series of NOR operations on the totality of atomic propositions. Wittgenstein drew from Henry M. Wittgenstein shows that this operator can cope with the whole of predicate logic with identity, defining the quantifiers at 5. The subsidiaries of 6. The final passages argue that logic and mathematics express only tautologies and are transcendental, i.

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