G. E. M. Anscombe
Anscombe as a young woman
Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe
18 March 1919
|Died||5 January 2001 81) (aged|
|Other names||Elizabeth Anscombe|
Peter Geach (m. 1941)
|Part of a series on|
Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe FBA ( // ; 18 March 1919 – 5 January 2001), usually cited as G. E. M. Anscombe or Elizabeth Anscombe, was a British analytic philosopher. She wrote on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of action, philosophical logic, philosophy of language, and ethics. She was a prominent figure of analytical Thomism.
Fellowship of the British Academy (FBA) is an award granted by the British Academy to leading academics for their distinction in the humanities and social sciences. There are three kinds of fellowship:
Analytic philosophy is a style of philosophy that became dominant in the Western world at the beginning of the 20th century. The term can refer to one of several things:
Philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy that studies the ontology and nature of the mind and its relationship with the body. The mind–body problem is a paradigm issue in philosophy of mind, although other issues are addressed, such as the hard problem of consciousness, and the nature of particular mental states. Aspects of the mind that are studied include mental events, mental functions, mental properties, consciousness, the ontology of the mind, the nature of thought, and the relationship of the mind to the body.
Anscombe was a student of Ludwig Wittgenstein and became an authority on his work and edited and translated many books drawn from his writings, above all his Philosophical Investigations . Anscombe's 1958 article "Modern Moral Philosophy" introduced the term consequentialism into the language of analytic philosophy, and had a seminal influence on contemporary virtue ethics. Her monograph Intention is generally recognised as her greatest and most influential work, and the continuing philosophical interest in the concepts of intention, action, and practical reasoning can be said to have taken its main impetus from this work.
Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein was an Austrian philosopher who worked primarily in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language.
Philosophical Investigations is a work by the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. The book was published posthumously in 1953. Wittgenstein discusses numerous problems and puzzles in the fields of semantics, logic, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of psychology, philosophy of action, and philosophy of mind, putting forth the view that conceptual confusions surrounding language use are at the root of most philosophical problems. Wittgenstein alleges that the problems are traceable to a set of related assumptions about the nature of language, which themselves presuppose a particular conception of the essence of language. This conception is considered and ultimately rejected for being too general; that is, as an essentialist account of the nature of language it is simply too narrow to be able to account for the variety of things we do with language. This view can be seen to contradict or discard much of what he argued in his earlier work Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921).
"Modern Moral Philosophy" is an article on moral philosophy by G. E. M. Anscombe, originally published in the journal Philosophy, vol. 33, no. 124.
Anscombe was born to Gertrude Elizabeth Anscombe (née Thomas) and Captain Allen Wells Anscombe, on 18 March 1919, in Limerick, Ireland, where her father had been stationed with the Royal Welch Fusiliers during the Irish War of Independence.Both her mother and father were involved with education. Her mother was a headmistress and her father went on to head a department at Dulwich College.
Limerick is a city in County Limerick, Ireland. It is located in the Mid-West Region and is also part of the province of Munster. Limerick City and County Council is the local authority for the city. The city lies on the River Shannon, with the historic core of the city located on King's Island, which is bounded by the Shannon and Abbey Rivers. Limerick is also located at the head of the Shannon Estuary, where the river widens before it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 94,192, Limerick is the third-most populous urban area in the state, and the fourth-most populous city on the island of Ireland.
The Royal Welch Fusiliers was a line infantry regiment of the British Army and part of the Prince of Wales' Division, founded in 1689 shortly after the Glorious Revolution. In 1702, it was designated a fusilier regiment and became The Welch Regiment of Fusiliers; the prefix "Royal" was added in 1713, then confirmed in 1714 when George I named it The Prince of Wales's Own Royal Regiment of Welsh Fusiliers. After the 1751 reforms that standardised the naming and numbering of regiments, it became the 23rd Foot.
The Irish War of Independence or Anglo-Irish War was a guerrilla war fought in Ireland from 1919 to 1921 between the Irish Republican Army and British forces: the British Army, along with the quasi-military Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and its paramilitary forces the Auxiliaries and Ulster Special Constabulary (USC). It was an escalation of the Irish revolutionary period into warfare.
Anscombe attended Sydenham High School and then, in 1937, went on to read literae humaniores ('Greats') at St Hugh's College, Oxford. She was awarded a Second Class in her honour moderations in 1939 and (albeit it with reservations on the part of her Ancient History examiners) a First in her degree finals in 1941. While still at Sydenham High School, she was converted to the Roman Catholic faith, and during her first undergraduate year she was received into the church. She remained a lifelong devout Catholic.
Sydenham High School is an independent school for 4- to 18-year-old girls located in London, England. Sydenham High School was founded by the Girls’ Public Day School Trust in 1887. Since then, the original school of 20 pupils has been transformed into a school of 600 girls. The school is separated into the senior and junior schools, each with a separate site located close to one another on Westwood Hill, Sydenham.
Literae humaniores, nicknamed greats, is an undergraduate course focused on classics at the University of Oxford and some other universities. The Latin name means literally "more human literature" and was in contrast to the other main field of study when the university began, i.e. res divinae, also known as theology. Lit. hum. is concerned with human learning, and lit. div. with learning that came from God. In its early days, it encompassed mathematics and natural sciences as well. It is an archetypal humanities course.
St Hugh's College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford. It is located on a 14.5-acre (5.9-hectare) site on St Margaret's Road, to the north of the city centre. It was founded in 1886 by Elizabeth Wordsworth as a women's college, and accepted its first male students in its centenary year in 1986.
In 1941 she married Peter Geach, like her a Roman Catholic convert. He became, like her, a student of Wittgenstein and a distinguished British academic philosopher. Together they had three sons and four daughters.
Peter Thomas Geach was a British philosopher and professor of logic at the University of Leeds. His areas of interest were the philosophical logic, ethics, history of philosophy, philosophy of religion and the theory of identity.
After graduating from Oxford, Anscombe was awarded a research fellowship for postgraduate study at Newnham College, Cambridge, from 1942 to 1945.Her purpose was to attend Ludwig Wittgenstein's lectures. Her interest in Wittgenstein's philosophy arose from reading the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus as an undergraduate. She claimed to have conceived the idea of studying with Wittgenstein as soon as she opened the book in Blackwell's and read section 5.53, "Identity of object I express by identity of sign, and not by using a sign for identity. Difference of objects I express by difference of signs." She became an enthusiastic student, feeling that Wittgenstein's therapeutic method helped to free her from philosophical difficulties in ways that her training in traditional systematic philosophy could not. As she wrote:
Newnham College is a women's constituent college of the University of Cambridge.
The Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is the only book-length philosophical work by the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein that was published during his lifetime. The project had a broad goal: to identify the relationship between language and reality and to define the limits of science. It is recognized by philosophers as a significant philosophical work of the twentieth century. G. E. Moore originally suggested the work's Latin title as homage to the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus by Baruch Spinoza.
Blackwell UK, also known as Blackwell's and Blackwell Group, is a British academic book retailer and library supply service. It was founded in 1879 by Benjamin Henry Blackwell, after whom the chain is named, in Oxford on Broad Street. The firm now has a chain of 45 shops, and an accounts and library supply service. It employs around 1000 staff in its divisions.
For years, I would spend time, in cafés, for example, staring at objects saying to myself: 'I see a packet. But what do I really see? How can I say that I see here anything more than a yellow expanse?' ... I always hated phenomenalism and felt trapped by it. I couldn't see my way out of it but I didn't believe it. It was no good pointing to difficulties about it, things which Russell found wrong with it, for example. The strength, the central nerve of it remained alive and raged achingly. It was only in Wittgenstein's classes in 1944 that I saw the nerve being extracted, the central thought "I have got this, and I define 'yellow' (say) as this" being effectively attacked.— Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Mind: The Collected Philosophical Papers of G.E.M. Anscombe, Volume 2 (1981) pp. vii–x.
After her fellowship at Cambridge ended, she was awarded a research fellowship at Somerville College, Oxford,but during the academic year of 1946/47, she continued to travel to Cambridge once a week to attend tutorials with Wittgenstein that were devoted mainly to the philosophy of religion. She became one of Wittgenstein's favourite students and one of his closest friends. Wittgenstein affectionately referred to her by the pet name "old man" – her being (according to Ray Monk) "an exception to his general dislike of academic women". His confidence in Anscombe's understanding of his perspective is shown by his choice of her as translator of his Philosophical Investigations (for which purpose he arranged for her to spend some time in Vienna to improve her German ).
Anscombe visited Wittgenstein many times after he left Cambridge in 1947, and travelled to Cambridge in April 1951 to visit him on his death bed. Wittgenstein named her, along with Rush Rhees and Georg Henrik von Wright, as his literary executor.After his death in 1951 she was responsible for editing, translating, and publishing many of Wittgenstein's manuscripts and notebooks.
Anscombe did not avoid controversy. As an undergraduate in 1939 she had publicly criticised Britain's entry into the Second World War.And, in 1956, while a research fellow, she unsuccessfully protested against Oxford granting an honorary degree to Harry S. Truman, whom she denounced as a mass murderer for his use of atomic bombs against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She would further publicise her position in a (sometimes erroneously dated ) pamphlet privately printed soon after Truman's nomination for the degree was approved. In the same she said she "should fear to go" to the Encaenia (the degree conferral ceremony) "in case God’s patience suddenly ends." She would also court controversy with some of her colleagues by defending the Roman Catholic Church's opposition to contraception. And later in life, she would be arrested protesting outside an abortion clinic, after abortion had been legalised in Great Britain (albeit with restrictions).
Having remained at Somerville College since 1946, Anscombe was elected Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge in 1970, where she served until her retirement in 1986. She was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1979.
In her later years, Anscombe suffered from heart disease, and was nearly killed in a car crash in 1996. She never fully recovered and she spent her last years in the care of her family in Cambridge.She died peacefully on 5 January 2001, aged 81, with her husband and four of their seven children at her hospital bedside.
She had not said where she was to be buried and the family chose what is now the Ascension Parish burial ground, as it was the nearest one to their home. There was some difficulty in getting a full-size plot, where she could be buried without being cremated first. This was not possible in the new part of the cemetery, so the site finally obtained – after negotiation with Ely diocesan authorities – was that of an old grave, corner-to-corner with the plot where Wittgenstein had been buried half a century before.
As a young philosophy don, Anscombe acquired a reputation as a formidable debater. In 1948, she presented a paper at a meeting of Oxford's Socratic Club in which she disputed C. S. Lewis's argument that naturalism was self-refuting (found in the third chapter of the original publication of his book Miracles ). Some associates of Lewis, primarily George Sayer and Derek Brewer, have remarked that Lewis lost the subsequent debate on her paper and that this loss was so humiliating that he abandoned theological argument and turned entirely to devotional writing and children's literature. Anscombe's impression of the effect upon Lewis is somewhat different:
The fact that Lewis rewrote that chapter, and rewrote it so that it now has those qualities [to address Anscombe's objections], shows his honesty and seriousness. The meeting of the Socratic Club at which I read my paper has been described by several of his friends as a horrible and shocking experience which upset him very much. Neither Dr Havard (who had Lewis and me to dinner a few weeks later) nor Professor Jack Bennet remembered any such feelings on Lewis's part ... My own recollection is that it was an occasion of sober discussion of certain quite definite criticisms, which Lewis' rethinking and rewriting showed he thought was accurate. I am inclined to construe the odd accounts of the matter by some of his friends – who seem not to have been interested in the actual arguments or the subject-matter – as an interesting example of the phenomenon called "projection".— Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Mind: The Collected Philosophical Papers of G.E.M. Anscombe, Volume 2 (1981) p.x.
As a result of the debate, Lewis substantially rewrote chapter 3 of Miracles for the 1960 paperback edition.
Some of Anscombe's most frequently cited works are translations, editions, and expositions of the work of her teacher Ludwig Wittgenstein, including an influential exegesisof Wittgenstein's 1921 book, the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus . This brought to the fore the importance of Gottlob Frege for Wittgenstein's thought and, partly on that basis, attacked "positivist" interpretations of the work. She co-edited his posthumous second book, Philosophische Untersuchungen/Philosophical Investigations (1953) with Rush Rhees. Her English translation of the book appeared simultaneously and remains standard. She went on to edit or co-edit several volumes of selections from his notebooks, (co-)translating many important works like Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics (1956) and Wittgenstein's "sustained treatment" of G. E. Moore's epistemology, On Certainty (1969).
In 1978, Anscombe was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, 1st class for her work on Wittgenstein.
Her most important work is the monograph Intention (1957). Three volumes of collected papers were published in 1981: From Parmenides to Wittgenstein; Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Mind; and Ethics, Religion and Politics. Another collection, Human Life, Action and Ethics appeared posthumously in 2005.
The aim of Intention (1957) was to make plain the character of human action and will. Anscombe approaches the matter through the concept of intention , which, as she notes, has three modes of appearance in our language:
|She is X'ing intentionally||intentional action|
|She is X'ing with the intention of doing Y |
or ... She is X'ing to Y
|intention with which|
or further intention in acting
|She intends to Y|
or ... She has expressed the intention to do Y
|expression of intention for the future;|
(what Davidson later called a pure intending)
She suggests that a true account must somehow connect these three uses of the concept, though later students of intention have sometimes denied this, and disputed some of the things she presupposes under the first and third headings. It is clear though that it is the second that is crucial to her main purpose, which is to comprehend the way in which human thought and understanding and conceptualisation relate to the "events in a man's history", or the goings on to which he is subject.
Rather than attempt to define intentions in abstraction from actions, thus taking the third heading first, Anscombe begins with the concept of an intentional action. This soon connected with the second heading. She says that what is up with a human being is an intentional action if the question "Why", taken in a certain sense (and evidently conceived as addressed to him), has application.An agent can answer the "why" question by giving a reason or purpose for her action. "To do Y" or "because I want to do Y" would be typical answers to this sort of "why?"; though they are not the only ones, they are crucial to the constitution of the phenomenon as a typical phenomenon of human life. The agent's answer helps supply the descriptions under which the action is intentional. Anscombe was the first to clearly spell out that actions are intentional under some descriptions and not others. In her famous example, a man's action (which we might observe as consisting in moving an arm up and down while holding a handle) may be intentional under the description "pumping water" but not under other descriptions such as "contracting these muscles", "tapping out this rhythm", and so on. This approach to action influenced Donald Davidson's theory, despite the fact that Davidson went on to argue for a causal theory of action that Anscombe never accepted.
Intention (1957) is also the classic source for the idea that there is a difference in "direction of fit" between cognitive states like beliefs and conative states like desire. (A theme later taken up and discussed by Searle).Cognitive states describe the world and are causally derived from the facts or objects they depict. Conative states do not describe the world, but aim to bring something about in the world. Anscombe used the example of a shopping list to illustrate the difference. The list can be a straightforward observational report of what is actually bought (thereby acting like a cognitive state), or it can function as a conative state such as a command or desire, dictating what the agent should buy. If the agent fails to buy what is listed, we do not say that the list is untrue or incorrect; we say that the mistake is in the action, not the desire. According to Anscombe, this difference in direction of fit is a major difference between speculative knowledge (theoretical, empirical knowledge) and practical knowledge (knowledge of actions and morals). Whereas "speculative knowledge" is "derived from the objects known", practical knowledge is – in a phrase Anscombe lifts from Aquinas – "the cause of what it understands".
Anscombe made great contributions to ethics as well as metaphysics. She is credited with having coined the term "consequentialism". In her 1958 essay "Modern Moral Philosophy", Anscombe wrote:
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" is credited with reviving interest in and study of virtue ethics in Western academic philosophy.
Anscombe also introduced the idea of a set of facts being 'brute relative to' some fact. When a set of facts xyz stands in this relation to a fact A, they are a subset out of a range some subset among which holds if A holds. Thus if A is the fact that I have paid for something, the brute facts might be that I have handed him a cheque for a sum which he has named as the price for the goods, saying that this is the payment, or that I gave him some cash at the time that he gave me the goods. There tends, according to Anscombe, to be an institutional context which gives its point to the description 'A', but of which 'A' is not itself a description: that I have given someone a shilling is not a description of the institution of money or of the currency of the country. According to her, no brute facts xyz can generally be said to entail the fact A relative to which they are 'brute' except with the proviso "under normal circumstances", for "one cannot mention all the things that were not the case, which would have made a difference if they had been."A set facts xyz ... may be brute relative to a fact A which itself is one of a set of facts ABC ... which is brute relative to some further fact W. Thus Anscombe's account is not of a distinct class of facts, to be distinguished from another class, 'institutional facts': the essential relation is that of a set of facts being 'brute relative to' some fact. Following Anscombe's lead, John Searle derived a sharper conception of 'brute facts' simply as non-mental facts to play the foundational role and generate similar hierarchies in his philosophical account of speech acts and institutional reality.
Her paper "The First Person" [ citation needed ]buttressed remarks by Wittgenstein (in his Lectures on "Private Experience" ) arguing for the now-notorious conclusion that the first-person pronoun, "I", does not refer to anything (not, e.g., to the speaker) because of its immunity from reference failure. Having shown by counter-example that 'I' does not refer to the body, Anscombe objected to the implied Cartesianism of its referring at all. Few people accept the conclusion – though the position was later adopted in a more radical form by David Lewis – but the paper was an important contribution to work on indexicals and self-consciousness that has been carried on by philosophers as varied as John Perry, Peter Strawson, David Kaplan, Gareth Evans, John McDowell, and Sebastian Rödl.
The philosopher Candace Vogler says that Anscombe's "strength" is that "'when she is writing for [a] Catholic audience, she presumes they share certain fundamental beliefs,' but she is equally willing to write for people who do not share her assumptions."In 2010, philosopher Roger Scruton wrote that Anscombe was "perhaps the last great philosopher writing in English." Mary Warnock described her as "the undoubted giant among women philosophers" while John Haldane said she "certainly has a good claim to be the greatest woman philosopher of whom we know."
Metaphilosophy is "the investigation of the nature of philosophy". Its subject matter includes the aims of philosophy, the boundaries of philosophy, and its methods. Thus, while philosophy characteristically inquires into the nature of being, the reality of objects, the possibility of knowledge, the nature of truth, and so on, metaphilosophy is the self-reflective inquiry into the nature, aims, and methods of the activity that makes these kinds of inquiries, by asking what is philosophy itself, what sorts of questions it should ask, how it might pose and answer them, and what it can achieve in doing so. It is considered by some to be a subject prior and preparatory to philosophy, while others see it as inherently a part of philosophy, or automatically a part of philosophy while others adopt some combination of these views. The interest in metaphilosophy led to the establishment of the journal Metaphilosophy in January 1970.
Normative ethics is the study of ethical action. It is the branch of philosophical ethics that investigates the set of questions that arise when considering how one ought to act, morally speaking.
Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege was a German philosopher, logician, and mathematician. He worked as a mathematics professor at the University of Jena, and is understood by many to be the father of analytic philosophy, concentrating on the philosophy of language, logic, and mathematics. Though largely ignored during his lifetime, Giuseppe Peano (1858–1932) and Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) introduced his work to later generations of philosophers.
Action theory is an area in philosophy concerned with theories about the processes causing willful human bodily movements of a more or less complex kind. This area of thought involves epistemology, ethics, metaphysics, jurisprudence, and philosophy of mind, and has attracted the strong interest of philosophers ever since Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. With the advent of psychology and later neuroscience, many theories of action are now subject to empirical testing.
Analytical Thomism is a philosophical movement which promotes the interchange of ideas between the thought of Saint Thomas Aquinas, and modern analytic philosophy.
Ordinary language philosophy is a philosophical methodology that sees traditional philosophical problems as rooted in misunderstandings philosophers develop by distorting or forgetting what words actually mean in everyday use. "Such 'philosophical' uses of language, on this view, create the very philosophical problems they are employed to solve." Ordinary language philosophy is a branch of linguistic philosophy closely related to logical positivism.
20th-century philosophy saw the development of a number of new philosophical schools—including logical positivism, analytic philosophy, phenomenology, existentialism, and poststructuralism. In terms of the eras of philosophy, it is usually labelled as contemporary philosophy.
In contemporary philosophy, a brute fact is a fact that has no explanation. More narrowly, brute facts may instead be defined as those facts which cannot be explained. To reject the existence of brute facts is to think that everything can be explained.. There are two ways to explain something: say what "brought it about", or describe it at a more "fundamental" level. For example, a cat displayed on a computer screen can be explained, more "fundamentally", as there being certain voltages in bits of metal in the screen, which in turn can be explained, more "fundamentally", as certain subatomic particles moving in a certain manner. If one were to keep explaining the world in this way and reach a point at which no more "deeper" explanations can be given, then they would have found some facts which are brute or inexplicable, in the sense that we. As it might be put, there may exist some things that just are. The same thing can be done with causal explanations. If nothing made the Big Bang expand at the velocity it did, then this is a brute fact in the sense that it lacks a causal explanation.
On Certainty is a philosophical book composed from notes written by Ludwig Wittgenstein over four separate periods in the eighteen months before his death on 29 April 1951. He left his initial notes at the home of Elizabeth Anscombe, who linked them by theme with later passages in Wittgenstein's personal notebooks and, compiled them into a German/English parallel text book published in 1969. The translators were Denis Paul and Anscombe herself.
Rush Rhees was an American philosopher. He is principally known as a student, friend, and literary executor of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. With G. E. M. Anscombe, he edited Wittgenstein's posthumous Philosophical Investigations (1953), a highly influential work. He was also responsible for publishing other works by Wittgenstein, including Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics, Philosophische Bemerkungen, Philosophical Remarks, and Philosophical Grammar. Rhees taught philosophy at Swansea University from 1940 until 1966, when he took early retirement to devote more time to editing Wittgenstein's works.
Women have engaged in philosophy throughout the field's history. While there were women philosophers since ancient times, and a relatively small number were accepted as philosophers during the ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary eras, particularly during the 20th and 21st century, almost no woman philosophers have entered the philosophical Western canon.
Naming and Necessity is a 1980 book with the transcript of three lectures, given by the philosopher Saul Kripke, at Princeton University in 1970, in which he dealt with the debates of proper names in the philosophy of language. The transcript was brought out originally in 1972 in Semantics of Natural Language, edited by Donald Davidson and Gilbert Harman. Among analytic philosophers, Naming and Necessity is widely considered one of the most important philosophical works of the twentieth century.
Alice Crary is an American philosopher who is University Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Faculty, The New School for Social Research in New York City and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oxford. She was the New School's Philosophy Department Chair 2014-2017 and founding Co-Chair of its Gender and Sexuality Studies program. For the academic year 2017-2018, she was a Member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. In the summer 2018 she was LFUI-Wittgenstein Guest Professor at the University of Innsbruck, Austria.
Constantine Sandis, FRSA is a Greek and British philosopher working on philosophy of action, moral psychology, David Hume, and Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Hidé Ishiguro is a Japanese analytic philosopher and emeritus professor at Keio University, Tokyo. She is considered an expert on the philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz on whom she has published many papers. She is also a Wittgenstein scholar.
The philosophy examiners wanted to give her a First ... but the ancient history examiners would agree to this only on condition that she showed a minimum knowledge of their subject in a viva voce (oral) examination. Anscombe's performance ... was less than spectacular... To the last two questions she answered 'No', these being 'Can you give us the name of a Roman provincial governor?' and (in some desperation) 'Is there any fact about the period you are supposed to have studied which you would like to tell us?' The examiners cannot have been well pleased, but somehow or other ended up being persuaded by the philosophers ... As Michael Dummett writes in his obituary ... 'For the [ancient historians] to have yielded, her philosophy papers must have been astonishing'.
In the autumn of 1939, while still an undergraduate, she and a friend wrote a pamphlet entitled The Justice of the Present War Examined. In this, Elizabeth Anscombe argued that while Britain was certainly fighting against an unjust cause, it was not fighting for a just one. ... Subsequently, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham told the two students to withdraw the pamphlet because they had described it as Catholic without getting a Church licence.
Anscombe ... opposed Britain's entry into World War II on the grounds that fighting the war would certainly involve killing noncombatants. When Oxford decided to award the U.S. president Harry Truman an honorary degree in 1956, Anscombe protested vigorously, arguing that the atomic bombing of innocent civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki disqualified him for such an honor.
Anscombe ... was a vigorous opponent of the use of nuclear weapons and led a protest of Oxford’s awarding a degree to President Harry Truman on the grounds that a mass-murderer should not be so honored. She was also a fierce opponent of abortion; on one occasion late in her life, she had to be dragged bodily by police away from a sit-in at an abortion clinic.
On 1st May 1956, Oxford University’s Convocation ...considered nominations for honorary degrees ... One of the nominations was Harry S. Truman ... Anscombe ..."caused a small stir" ... by arguing that the nomination should be rejected on the grounds that Truman was guilty of mass murder ... Anscombe’s speech did not persuade ...The House was asked to indicate its attitude toward the nomination, and showed overwhelming support. ... On 20th June, Truman was awarded his honorary degree