Sunday, May 10, 2009

21a Elizabeth Anscombe (1919 - 2001)

We come here to the undoubted giant among women philosophers, a writer of immense breadth, authority and penetration. Elizabeth Anscombe published 'Intention' in 1957, followed by 'An Introduction to Wittgenstein's Tractatus " in 1959.

In 1961, with her husband, the philosopher Peter Geach, she published "Three Philosophers: Aristotle, Aquinas, Frege". Her collected philosophical papers are published in three important volumes, "From Parmenides to Wittgenstein", "Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Mind" and "Ethics, Religion and Politics".

As you can conclude from these titles she published about numerous issues of modern philosophy. She is a truly original philosopher, making new connections, constantly opening one's eyes to new questions or to new aspects of the philosophy of the past.

If there is one whom I would be jealous of then it is her. She attended the seminars of Wittgenstein. She lived philosophically in an exciting period and had a great carreer in Oxford and Cambridge.

In preperation of this lecture I readchapter 13: 'Causality and determination' from her "Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Mind".
I begins like this:

"It is often declared or evidently assumed that causality is some
kind of necessary connection, or alternatively, that being caused is
- non-trivially - instancing some exceptionless generalization
saying that such an event always follows such antecedents. Or the
two conceptions are combined."

What follows is really not easy reading, but a professional discourse on a classsic philosophical problem, which is as old as philosophy is. The problem we have to face with causation and necessity is, that when everything is in a causal relation with everything, then the whole world including us, is just one big chain-reaction.

Or as Spinoza formulates it in one of his axioms: "Given a determinate cause, the effect follows OF NECESSITY, and without its cause, no effect follows" (Ethics, book I, Axiom III)

This idea covers a lot of fundamental philosophical problems: metaphysics, the meaning of laws of nature, determinism, free will, responsability and ethics. Impossible to deal with this all in just one discussion.

Elizabeth Anscombe made great contributions to ethics too. She is credited with having coined the term "consequentialism". And now a peculiar observation.

Neither in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, nor the Stanford Encyclopedia is an article on Elizabeth Anscombe, but there is an article on Consequentialism.

Consequentialism refers to those moral theories which hold that the consequences of a particular action form the basis for any valid moral judgment about that action. Thus, from a consequentialist standpoint, a morally right action is one that produces a good outcome, or consequence.

A real disgrace: In the article on this subject not even her name is mentioned, nor is her essay "Modern Moral Philosophy" (1958) mentioned in the list of literature. A severe omission, I would say. You can read the essay here:

Unfortunately I discovered it too late to have the time to read it before class would begin. So I'll leave it to you as homework ^_^

The Discussion

[13:20] herman Bergson: This on Elizabeth Anscombe..
[13:20] Gemma Cleanslate: have bookmarked it
[13:20] herman Bergson: And yes Corona to some extend you are right..
[13:20] hope63 Shepherd: well.. that certainly is not5 enough herman.. we have to know more..
[13:20] herman Bergson: but the ends must be acceptable
[13:21] Corona Anatine: of course
[13:21] herman Bergson: You want to know more Hope?
[13:21] herman Bergson: That she wasa mother of 7 children too perhaps?
[13:21] Gemma Cleanslate: the article will be good for that
[13:21] hope63 Shepherd: sure.. this i think is basic questi8ons..
[13:22] Alarice Beaumont: yes.. i bookmarked it
[13:22] Paula Dix: We have here Mcmillan Philosophy Encyclopedia and there is a nice text about her
[13:22] herman Bergson: ONLINE Paula?
[13:22] Paula Dix: pdf
[13:22] Paula Dix: we got it online. somewhere :)
[13:23] Paula Dix: wait
[13:23] hope63 Shepherd: can we get back to causuality? jaques monod was writing about that..don't know the english title.. zufall und notwendigkeit-herman translate..:)
[13:23] herman Bergson: Coincidence and necessity
[13:24] herman Bergson: Yes the causation issue is a basic philosophical problem
[13:24] herman Bergson: especially in relation to ethics
[13:24] herman Bergson: if everything has a cause, no one can be responsible for what happens
[13:25] Samuel Okelly: "the end may justify the means so long as there is something that can justify the end" trostky
[13:25] Paula Dix: Here: ls-2nd-ed/3952dee94677d17ebd41847684097b78c5bd04a611a8
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: from what i read i did not get the idea the the end justifies the means was her philosophy
[13:26] herman Bergson: Yes Samuel....and this consequentialism is a variation on utilitarianism
[13:26] herman Bergson: Bentham and Mill's idea of the greatest happiness for the greatest number
[13:26] hope63 Shepherd: causation is THE major question in law..
[13:27] herman Bergson: No not literally ~Gemma
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: exactly
[13:27] Samuel Okelly: did she offer a means to objectively compare two subjective pleasures?
[13:27] herman Bergson: But in the sense that the consequences justify the morality of an action
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: well that is not the same at all
[13:28] herman Bergson: that is a mean one, Samuel :-)
[13:28] Samuel Okelly: :)
[13:28] herman Bergson: the concept of pleasure is questionable indeed
[13:28] Corona Anatine: is it ?
[13:28] herman Bergson: I think so , yes, Corona
[13:28] Alarice Beaumont: ?
[13:29] Samuel Okelly: it is a difficult issue when forced to consider utility i think
[13:29] Paula Dix: could that idea be expanded to mean that, for instance, ants act like that, complete automatic reaction always, while us have a bigger level of option/decision, but are also conditioned by our physical beings, partially like ants?
[13:29] hope63 Shepherd: if we forget pleasure but look at law it is the morality of action which is in debate..
[13:29] herman Bergson: as a measurment for morally acceptable behavior
[13:30] hope63 Shepherd: which means. what judgment is moraly acceptable..
[13:30] herman Bergson: yes hope
[13:30] herman Bergson: there are a number of views....
[13:31] herman Bergson: a deontic view on ethics, or a virtue ethics, or this utilitarian view
[13:31] herman Bergson: There are arguments for all these options
[13:32] herman Bergson: Betham made all kind of calculations of pleasure to discern good from bad
[13:32] herman Bergson: Kant took the deontic approach
[13:32] herman Bergson: The Greek saw ethical wisdom in the virtue of man
[13:33] Samuel Okelly: did she offer a way to approach judging the morality of an action when forced to make a subjective yet comparitive judgment of "utility"?
[13:34] herman Bergson: Hmmmm...I think we have to read her essay from 1958 first here Samuel :-)
[13:34] Corona Anatine: i dont think such would be possible and be at the same time universal
[13:35] herman Bergson: What is interesting is to see what kinfd of theories of ethics prevail these days
[13:35] Corona Anatine: because what is seen as moral is also causative
[13:35] hope63 Shepherd: moral and universal i cfonsider contradictory..
[13:35] hope63 Shepherd: moral can never be universalo..
[13:35] Samuel Okelly: rape?
[13:36] herman Bergson: murder?
[13:36] Samuel Okelly: paedophilia?
[13:36] Paula Dix: no thanks
[13:36] Corona Anatine: a result of causal facters would put it better
[13:36] hope63 Shepherd: paedophilia was a virtue.. amognst he greeks.. sam..:)
[13:36] herman Bergson: I have wondered a lot about moral universality
[13:36] herman Bergson: yes, but killing, Hope?
[13:36] Samuel Okelly: with out the universality of moral action we have to consider the possibility that such things may well be moral in ceratin cases
[13:37] Corona Anatine: murder is sacntined under certain conditions
[13:37] hope63 Shepherd: hm.. the church in its history was considered moral.. anhd killed thoussnds in sout america? slavery?
[13:37] Samuel Okelly: rape?
[13:37] herman Bergson: yes, Corona, like the justified war is sanctioned killing
[13:37] Paula Dix: i guess spartans would consider killing moral in some ways, wouldnt?
[13:38] hope63 Shepherd: muder is a LEGAL TERM..
[13:38] Samuel Okelly: paedophilia?
[13:38] Corona Anatine: captial punishemnt is also sanctioned murder
[13:38] herman Bergson: yes it is ...
[13:39] hope63 Shepherd: wait wait.. you cfonfuse MURDER. with killing someone..
[13:39] Corona Anatine: paedophilia is a socio-cultural definition
[13:39] Samuel Okelly: is anyone going to even attempt a possible apology for arguing when paedophilia may be considered moral?
[13:39] herman Bergson: so would considering the consequences of a killing help to decide wether it is right or wrong?
[13:39] Corona Anatine: not universal even among european nations
[13:40] Paula Dix: Gauguin married a 12 yo girl in Tahiti... no problem in that
[13:40] Corona Anatine: possiblly becausde it groups two disimilar things in one category
[13:41] Corona Anatine: below physical age with below legal age
[13:41] Corona Anatine: but in anglo-saxon law
[13:41] Corona Anatine: adulthood came at 12
[13:41] Corona Anatine: as it did for most early law codes
[13:41] Samuel Okelly: the point is that the consequentialist must consider that such acts may be moral
[13:42] Samuel Okelly: the simple fact that they occured does NOT render them moral
[13:42] Samuel Okelly: slavery happened but was it ever justified?
[13:42] hope63 Shepherd: nor immorapl..
[13:42] Paula Dix: so if you are nice to your slave is it morally acceptable?
[13:42] Corona Anatine: justification has been known
[13:42] herman Bergson: Yes...and there is another point....intended and unexpected consequences...
[13:42] Corona Anatine: for example if someone was in dept
[13:43] hope63 Shepherd: socially acceptabl3 is not the question of moraly aceptable..
[13:43] Samuel Okelly: the road to hell is paved with good intentions
[13:43] Corona Anatine: perhaps we should bring soem goreans here to naswer that one
[13:43] Paula Dix: lol
[13:44] Samuel Okelly: :)
[13:44] Gemma Cleanslate: oh dear
[13:44] hope63 Shepherd: so is the road to heaven
[13:44] herman Bergson: Well...I suggest that next class will be on causation and on the article on Moral theory (1958)
[13:44] Gemma Cleanslate: getting crazy
[13:44] Gemma Cleanslate: ah ok
[13:44] Gemma Cleanslate: will read it
[13:44] Samuel Okelly: on the contrary hope, that road is paved with good deed
[13:44] Paula Dix: great Herman!
[13:44] herman Bergson: we need to dig somewhat deeper into these issues
[13:44] hope63 Shepherd: lol.. depends on who decides what is good or
[13:45] Samuel Okelly: not if moral action is universald
[13:45] Alarice Beaumont: usually the majority
[13:45] Corona Anatine: the thing is that road to heaven and road to hell are the same road
[13:45] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:45] Alarice Beaumont: well.. are you sure there is a "heaven" and s "hell"?
[13:45] herman Bergson: yes Corona...especially when there is no heaven nor hell :-)
[13:45] Alarice Beaumont: lol
[13:45] Alarice Beaumont: thx Herman :-)
[13:45] Corona Anatine: withinh the use of the term yes
[13:45] Samuel Okelly: thanks again herman :)
[13:45] Paula Dix: there is any difference between ethics and moral?
[13:46] Samuel Okelly:
[13:46] Samuel Okelly: †
[13:46] Samuel Okelly: † (( take care everyone )) †
[13:46] Samuel Okelly: †
[13:46] Samuel Okelly:
[13:46] Alarice Beaumont: oh that is a good question
[13:46] hope63 Shepherd: there is herman.. smile.. we created it.. and as we are the masters of the
[13:46] Corona Anatine: did we shape his mind tho
[13:47] Corona Anatine: and whatever gave rise to herman - it is still causative
[13:47] herman Bergson: Next class will be about Anscombe's essay on Ethics
[13:47] hope63 Shepherd: unfortunately the univesre doesn't give a damn..
[13:47] Corona Anatine: the one you from earlier ?
[13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: ok
[13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:47] herman Bergson: is online
[13:48] herman Bergson: I found it too late...
[13:48] Corona Anatine: kk
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: better send it out in a notice for those who are not here today
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: homework assignment
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: to the whole group
[13:48] herman Bergson: Ah..ok..Gemma....we'll let them sweat ^_^
[13:48] Corona Anatine: i have put it in hermans profile notes
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: lololol
[13:49] herman Bergson: This was a quiet class today.....Laila even fell asleep ^_^
[13:49] Gemma Cleanslate: lololol
[13:49] Gemma Cleanslate: oh dear
[13:49] Qwark Allen: omg
[13:49] Paula Dix: wow, her first sentence on that text already is amazing :)
[13:49] Alarice Beaumont: hahahha
[13:49] Alarice Beaumont: oh my
[13:49] Paula Dix: lol
[13:49] herman Bergson: she will kill me for this remark ...^_^
[13:49] Corona Anatine: could the difference between morals and ethics be defined as - moral are measured by ethics
[13:49] Alarice Beaumont: ah.. we will save you ,-)
[13:50] hope63 Shepherd: sl promises you eternal life herman.. so why
[13:50] Laila Schuman: phone...sorry
[13:50] Alarice Beaumont: no ethic deals and explains moral... that was what i found in the wiki
[13:50] Paula Dix: ive told that moral and ethics are the same, one roman word, the other greek
[13:50] herman Bergson: ethics is in fact the theory about moral rules
[13:50] Alarice Beaumont: :-)
[13:51] Corona Anatine: thnks - i got it more or less right hten
[13:51] Paula Dix: so moral is the practice, ethics the ideas?
[13:51] herman Bergson: morals are the rules we live by and ethics is the theoretical reflection on this phenomenon
[13:51] Paula Dix: ok
[13:51] Corona Anatine: : )
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: ah good def
[13:52] herman Bergson: Welcome back, Laila :-)
[13:52] Corona Anatine: so in theory ethics aims to be universal
[13:52] Qwark Allen: :-)
[13:52] Laila Schuman: are morals not dependant on the whom and when of a people...
[13:52] Laila Schuman: ty
[13:52] Corona Anatine: whereas morals are a social vector
[13:52] herman Bergson: Yes there is always the inclination to be universal in your theoretical conclusions Corona...
[13:53] herman Bergson: only laws of nature seem to reach that level
[13:53] herman Bergson: which brings us back to causality in relation to ethics
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: well before we being alll over
[13:54] herman Bergson: determinism vs indeterminism
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: Bye
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: i will say
[13:54] Paula Dix: bye
[13:54] Alarice Beaumont: i have to go too :-)
[13:54] Qwark Allen: :-)
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: see you thursday
[13:54] herman Bergson: Bye Gemma...Qwark..till next time :-)
[13:54] Qwark Allen: friends
[13:54] Qwark Allen: cya soon
[13:54] Alarice Beaumont: wish all of you a good week :-))
[13:54] Qwark Allen: ******* Herman *******
[13:54] Qwark Allen: ty for the lecture
[13:54] Anne Charles: bye gemma, alarice
[13:54] Alarice Beaumont: and thank you .. :-)
[13:54] herman Bergson: you're welcome
[13:55] Alarice Beaumont: Nite everybody :-)

Posted by herman_bergson on 2009-03-04 16:49:07

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