One of the most important philosophers of recent times, Elizabeth Anscombe wrote books and articles on a wide range of topics, including the ground-breaking monograph Intention. Her work is original, challenging, often difficult, always insightful; but it has frequently been misunderstood, and its overall significance is still not fully appreciated. This book is the first major study of Anscombe's philosophical oeuvre. In it, Roger Teichmann presents Anscombe's main ideas, bringing out their interconnections, elaborating and discussing their implications, pointing out objections (...) and difficulties, and aiming to give a unified overview of her philosophy. Many of Anscombe's arguments are relevant to contemporary debates, as Teichmann shows, and on a number of topics what Anscombe has to say constitutes a powerful alternative to dominant or popular views. Among the writings discussed are Intention, "Practical Inference," "Modern Moral Philosophy," "Rules, Rights and Promises," "On Brute Facts," "The First Person," "The Intentionality of Sensation," "Causality and Determination," An Introduction to Wittgenstein's Tractatus, "The Question of Linguistic Idealism," and a number of other pieces, including some that are little known or hard to obtain. A complete bibliography of Anscombe's writings is also included. Ranging from the philosophy of action, through ethics, to philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and the philosophy of logic and language, this book is a study of one of the most significant bodies of work in modern philosophy, spanning more than fifty years, and as pertinent today as ever. (shrink)
What is it for the same word or expression to occur in two different contexts? One is inclined to say that the word “rat” does not occur in “Socrates loved Plato,” but it is harder to justify this statement than might be thought. This issue lies in the midst of a tangle of issues, a number of which are investigated in an important but little-discussed article of Anscombe’s, in which she considers the question whether the Wittgenstein of the Philosophical Investigations (...) can be read as proposing a “micro-reductionist” theory of language: i.e., a theory which states non-circular conditions for any given sound’s having a meaning. Anscombe answers the question negatively; and indeed there are obstacles faced by any such theory of language. Our investigation turns out to have implications not only within philosophy of language, but also within philosophy of psychology. (shrink)
In Intention, Anscombe characterises intentional actions as “the actions to which a certain sense of the question ‘Why?’ is given application”. Some philosophers have seen Anscombe's reference to “Why?”, and to other workings of language, as heuristic devices only. I argue that, on the contrary, we should see the enquiry-and-response dialogue, and related dialogues, as essential foci of the sort of investigation Anscombe is undertaking, one which looks to a certain kind of language-game and the human purpose or purposes which (...) lie behind it. This approach can be fruitfully extended to other questions in the philosophy of action and of mind. (shrink)
There is a class of speech-acts employing expressions such as ‘can't, ‘must’, and ‘meant to’, which have a paradigm role in stating the rules that govern a practice. Elizabeth Anscombe called such expressions stopping (or forcing) modals. Although “You can't phi”, etc., are not implicit hypothetical imperatives, it nevertheless makes prima facie sense to ask of a given practice why we go in for it, what the point of it is. Various questions are discussed in connection with these facts, e.g. (...) What distinguishes a rule's applying to someone from its having force (for that person)? Where the practice at issue is a ‘language-game’, does the question “Why do we do this?” still makes sense? (shrink)
Part 2 is concerned, in chapter 4, with semantic features of dates and duration terms, and, in chapter 5, with the conventionality of measurements of duration, and the incoherence of durationless instants.
A clock can do two things: it can give the time, and it can measure time. Perhaps the first function is the more humanly important. But one might say that a clock can only give the time by measuring time; at some point it is ‘fed’ the time, or the date, and if it subsequently keeps good time—measures time accurately—one can use it to read off later times or dates.
Elizabeth Anscombe is among the most distinguished and original philosophers alive today. Her work has ranged over many areas of philosophy, including metaphysics, ethics, the philosophy of mind and action, and the philosophy of religion. In each of these areas she has made seminal contributions. The essays in this book reflect the breadth of her interests and the esteem in which she is held by her colleagues. The distinguished contributors include Michael Dunnett, Nancy Cartwright, Peter Geach and Philippa Foot; and (...) Professor Anscombe's essay 'Making True' is published here for the first time. (shrink)
Wittgenstein’s remark in section 304 of the _Investigations_ that a sensation “is not a something, but not a nothing either” has often been connected with his critique of the “picture of an inner process”, and there is a temptation to read “something” as meaning “something private”. I argue that his remark should be taken more at face value, and that we can understand its purport via a consideration of the notion of _consisting in_. I explore this multi-faceted notion and its (...) connection with the Context Principle, beginning with the case of certain “propositional attitudes” and moving on to sensations. Wittgenstein was right to think it a philosophical prejudice to say that X’s being in pain, say, must consist in, be constituted by, something. (shrink)
The ten essays gathered together in this book treat of truth, meaning, realism, natural kind terms, and related topics. Almost all began life as invited contributions to conferences. From the Preface we learn that Grayling, in contrast to those colleagues whose perfectionism leads them to publish too little, preferred to ‘venture ideas as if they were letters to friends’. The style could hardly be called epistolary, however; a high level of generality is maintained throughout, and there is much plotting of (...) the relationships between philosophical positions . An aesthetic of tentativeness also prevails: at one point, for example, Grayling withdraws his too hasty offer of a sketch of an argument, in favour of ‘a sketch of how an argument might look in outline’ . A sketch of a sketch, perhaps?Things are not so sketchy that one cannot discern some positive claims. One of these is embodied in what …. (shrink)
… it is not profitable for us at present to do moral philosophy; that should be laid aside at any rate until we have an adequate philosophy of psychology, in which we are conspicuously lacking.These words state one of the principal theses of Elizabeth Anscombe's ‘Modern Moral Philosophy’. Later in the article, the point is reiterated more specifically and with more force:is it not clear that there are several concepts that need investigating simply as part of the philosophy of psychology (...) and – as I should recommend – banishing ethics totally from our minds? Namely – to begin with: ‘action’, ‘intention’, ‘pleasure’, ‘wanting’. More will probably turn up if we start with these. (shrink)
A bias against the past is a feature of our Zeitgeist , and has a number of manifestations. One of these is the dominant model of rational agency as geared towards producing effects or outcomes, a model which cannot make sense of the cogency of backward-looking reasons for action. I discuss the nature of such reasons, and the way of perceiving and understanding the past which goes with them. This mode of understanding the past is one of the things that (...) gives substance to the idea that the past has a reality lacked by the future, a reality which among other things makes the past a possible object of contemplation . Such contemplation is a crucial component of eudaimonia. (shrink)
As children, we are often told both what to do and what to think. For a child to learn at all, it must in the first instance simply trust those, such as parents, who teach it things; and this goes for practical as well as theoretical learning. Doubting is necessarily something that comes later, for to be able to doubt one must have some beliefs already, e.g. concerning what sort of reasons count as good reasons, and what count as bad. (...) But in growing up, a person does, or should, develop the capacity for rational doubt, and also the capacity for rational resistance to being told what to do. The first capacity constitutes a critical faculty, and the second is an essential constituent of practical autonomy. (shrink)