📰 Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe

Author: Driver

Full Title: Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe

URL: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/anscombe/

Highlights from February 24th, 2021.

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. Yet, a crucial difference, it seems, is that when we justify a prediction—such as “It will rain tomorrow” we use evidence. On the other hand when we justify an intention, such as “I will go to the ice cream shop tomorrow,” we give reasons, i.e., “…reasons why it would be useful or attractive if the description came true, not by evidence that it is true.”
Another of her insights is that when we describe intentional action we are pointing to something for which reasons can be given, and by ‘reasons’ we do not mean ‘causes.’
Anscombe’s article “Modern Moral Philosophy” stimulated the development of Virtue Ethics as an alternative to Utilitarianism, Kantian Ethics, and Social Contract theories. Her primary charge in the article is that, as secular approaches to moral theory, they are without foundation. They use concepts such as ‘morally ought,’ ‘morally obligated,’ ‘morally right,’ and so forth that are legalistic and require a legislator as the source of moral authority. 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.
Virtue terms are thick. To describe an action as ’cowardly’ provides much more information than to describe it as ’wrong’.