G. E. M. Anscombe

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G. E. M. Anscombe

G. E. M. Anscombe (18 March 19195 January 2001), born Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe, and also known as Elizabeth Anscombe, was an Irish-born British analytic philosopher. A student of Ludwig Wittgenstein, she became an authority on his work, and edited and translated many books drawn from his writings, above all his Philosophical Investigations. She wrote on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of action, philosophical logic, philosophy of language, and ethics. Her monograph Intention (1957) is generally recognized as her greatest and most influential work.

Anscombe also supports and takes a modern approach to Virtue Ethics, an ethical theory originated in Aristotle and developed by St Thomas Aquinas which focuses on the development of a virtuous (moral) AGENT rather than on performing moral ACTS. Anscombe approved of Aristotelian thinking, especially of the concept of eudamonia and of causes rather than reasons.


  • The denial of any distinction between foreseen and intended consequences, as far as responsibility is concerned, was not made by Sidgwick in developing any one 'method of ethics'; he made this important move on behalf of everybody and just on its own account; and I think it plausible to suggest that this move on the part of Sidgwick explains the difference between old-fashioned Utilitarianism and the consequentialism, as I name it, which marks him and every English academic moral philosopher since him.
    • "Modern Moral Philosophy", 1958.
      • Here Anscombe coined the word "consequentialism".
  • Those who try to make room for sex as mere casual enjoyment pay the penalty: they become shallow. At any rate the talk that reflects and commends this attitude is always shallow. They dishonour their own bodies; holding cheap what is naturally connected with the origination of human life.
    • Contraception and Chastity (1975)

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