Born Today: G.E.M. Anscombe

1919-2001

“The breadth of her work is impressive. She was systematic in her thinking, seeing and developing connections between metaphysics, moral psychology, and ethics that exhibited not simply a grasp of one particular problem, but a world view. Her legacy is one of the broadest and deepest left by a 20th century philosopher.” – Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

  • Cambridge philosopher who occupied the Chair formerly held by Wittgenstein.
  • Married philosopher Peter Geach.
  • She was known as a fierce debater.
  • In 1956, publicly opposed the decision of Oxford University to award an honorary degree to Harry Truman for his decision to use of atomic weapons against Japan.
  • She opposed contraception.
  • Influenced by Wittgenstein particularly in her views on metaphysics
  • Most influential on her works on causation. She challenged Hume's view and established a trend towards probabilistic views of causality.
  • Her book Intention (on intentionality) is considered a classic of twentieth century philosophy.
  • Famously challenged Oxford don C.S. Lewis' argument in chapter 3 of his book Miracles at a meeting of the Socratic Club. Her challenge was so formidable, that Lewis allegedly became so upset by the argument that he rewrote chapter 3 for the paper version of his book to account for Anscombe's argument.

Today’s quote: “Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.” – General Turgidson (Dr. Strangelove)

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