G. E. M. Anscombe (—) of psychology. Her work on action, found mostly in her short book Intention, was a step in the direction of such a philosophy. Philosophical perplexity about intention begins with its appearance in three guises: intention for the future, as when I intend to complete this. Anscombe’s Intention () is one of the classics of 20th century .. Philosophy and Ethics by G.E.M. Anscombe (St. Andrews Studies in.

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G. E. M. Anscombe – Wikipedia

Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Intention by G. Intention is one of the masterworks of 20th-century philosophy.

First published init has acquired the status of a modern philosophical classic.

G. E. M. Anscombe (1919—2001)

The book attempts to show in detail that the natural and widely accepted picture of what we mean by an intention gives rise to insoluble problems and must be abandoned. Paperbackpages. Published October 16th by Harvard University Press first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Intentionplease sign up.

Lists with This Book. Feb 19, Steven rated it really liked it Shelves: InAnscombe aroused controversy by publicly opposing Oxford University’s decision to award an honorary degree to Harry Truman, whom she considered a mass murderer for his decision to use atomic weapons against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She did not mince words. On May 1,in the Oxford Mailshe writes: If you give this honour, what Nero, what Gengis Khan, what Hitler, or what Stalin will not be honoured in the future?

Her opposition to the award culminated in a fa InAnscombe aroused controversy by publicly opposing Oxford University’s decision to award an honorary degree to Harry Truman, whom she considered a mass murderer for his decision to use atomic weapons against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Her opposition to the award culminated in a famous pamphlet, Mr. Truman’s Degreein which she elucidated and defended her views. Her main contention in this pamphlet is that Truman dropped the bomb on those cities, not despite the civilian population, imtention at least in part because of that population; for the effect it would produce.

Truman used innocent civilians as a means to end the war, which is wrong on Anscombe’s view. She believed that the presence of victims entered into his deliberation as a positiverather than as a detracting factor, which makes the dropping of the bombs a case of outright murder. That Truman could have chosen a different course of action – for instance, to drop the bombs on an isolated island in order to demonstrate force without victims, or to negotiate with the Japanese, evidence of whose willingness to do so existed at the time – strengthens her case against Truman.


The pamphlet is an intriguing read; you can find it here. Some g.e.m.amscombe attempted to exculpate Truman, who, after all, in their view, only signed his name at the end of the document that gave green light to the bombings. He only pressed the proverbial button; so how can he be a murderer? Anscombe would respond that some button-pressings or signature-givings are murderings.

Yet this leads to a philosophical puzzle: This puzzle lies at the heart of Intentionthe book that Anscombe would publish in In this dense book, without apparent structure apart from its division g.e.m.ansdombe 52 sections, Anscombe sets out to describe the concept of intention and contend that the way it has jntention understood is highly problematic.

Her first act towards this purpose is to disambiguate the concept into three ways in which it is used, namely: In the end, however, it turns out that their really is only one sense of intention. How can we tell what someone’s intention is? Here is where Anscombe takes an important step. The answer lies, she claims, not in what goes on inside the mind of the man who acts where a Cartesian would lookbut rather in “what physically takes place, i.

This is where to look, because of all the things you could say a person is doing, most intetnion them would be things she intends to do. But g.e.m.anscpmbe, then, distinguishes intentional actions from other kinds of events?

G. E. M. Anscombe

This is another important part of Anscombe’s argument. She proffers two answers. The first is that an action is intentional when a certain sense of the question ‘Why? This, of course, is circular: Here Anscombe makes a crucial step.

According to her, the key aspect of acting intentionally is to know what one is doing ; however, this knowledge of what one does does not come through intentino. Rather, it is known without observation. Take the position of your limbs, for instance.

You know where they are without having to look at them. If someone asks intentlon, “where are your legs? In the same way, acting intentionally is acting in such a way that when someone asks you ‘Why? Jan 03, Jennifer rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: A veritable font of wisdom and light. If only I understood it. Jun 17, Gavin Leech rated it liked it.

Anscombe, G. E. M. | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Very intemtion, very ordinary, and yet unsettling. Her language looks very intetnion — it’s jargon-free — but on engaging with it you see it’s blurred, terse, arduous. She never introduces the question at hand, nor does she make any introduction at all: I think her points are that: That needs more work to be representative: So if you are doing something intentional, you necessarily know you are doing it. Intention was intended as the first piece of the first ‘proper’, psychologised account of agency.

She thought one needed an action theory before one could have a real moral theory. But consequentialism sidesteps that need, just as it ducks the g.e.m.anscimbe responsibility question, and the warm-glow problem, and the meta-ethical status of moral language If you take nothing else from it, take the “reasons” vs “causes” distinction seriously.


It is a real problem, necessary for serious inquiry into humans. Dec 16, Tomq rated it liked it. The influence of Wittgenstein is evident in numerous references mainly to the Philosophical Investigationsbut more importantly in the method: But not all questions are of that sort. What does a cat have, when it has the intention to catch a bird?

G.e.m.anscombe a result, the study of intention becomes t.e.m.anscombe survey and synthesis of folk theories of intention via linguistic use and a pre-scientific empirical study of intentional action with behaviourist undertones via anecdotes and thought experiments. To be sure, this is done with considerable intelligence, leading to the discovery of a lot of examples which shed light on the concept of intention.

There is almost no mention of empirical psychology. The purely philosophical ge.m.anscombe of empirical matters occasionally leads to incorrect dogmatic pronouncements. This seems utterly absurd: It is not difficult g.e.m.anscimbe think of examples; people often reflect upon past actions and discover mental causes of which they had no awareness, e. By the way, the whole argument does not appear to be specific to practical reason: These mistakes are compounded as Anscombe takes these pronouncements for granted and builds houses of cards upon unstable foundations.

Other parts are confusing or unclear e.

Despite this, it would be a gross exaggeration to say that Anscombe writes poorly; occasionally her wit is entertaining, and most of the time the arguments flow rather naturally. For somebody interested in the topic of intention, this should not be excessively challenging to read. Feb 07, Anthony rated it really liked it Shelves: Esame di Filosofia delle rappresentazioni mentali.

Non avevo la minima intehtion di tornar a studiare ‘sta roba. Quel ciclo di lezioni inttention state un incubo. Mi ricordo solo una mucca pezzata carnica che veniva nominata spesso e volentieri. La Stella del Mattino e la Stella della Sera.

E lo strano modo in cui il prof pronunciava il nome dei filosofi del li Esame di Filosofia delle rappresentazioni mentali. E lo strano modo in cui il prof pronunciava il nome dei filosofi del linguaggio.

Mi va in pappa il g.e.m.xnscombe Aug 21, Loyd Mbabu rated it really liked it. It’s been said to be one of the most misunderstood book and I can’t say I understood it thoroughly.

But a great read. It gave me a whole new perspective on intention. Jan 12, Sumeyye Pa rated it it was amazing. I feel the need to reread this. I am impressed by the style and clarity.