She refers to "psychology", and not being able to do "philosophy", of contemporary "systems" which, she complains, allows people to commit "injustice".



would or would not be unjust is really only to decide "according to what is reasonable"

It seems she is sure we have a good idea of what is "reasonable", but not how reasonable and unreasonable behaviour inflects into making people brave or foolish, petty or scrupulous. Is that the case?

It seems very likely to me that there is no clear nor robust way of telling when someone is virtuous, that we lack a means of identifying that either in ourselves (social norms aside) or others (flattery aside). And I think that blindness to that fact may well encourage all sorts of self aggrandising vacuity.

Is that (part of) what she is talking about here? I don't think she uses the word "virtue" at any point. How does she attempt to move from 'unjust' to 'wrong'?

  • In Modern Moral Philosophy: 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... Feb 8 at 2:49

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Typically, in her essay virtue ethics is meant to be offer an alternative to obligation. But it is at least arguable that wants to retain 'wrong'. This suggests the article is in fact a reductio ab absurdum for natural law and religious based ethics. But

It is sometimes thought that Anscombe is saying that only religious believers are entitled to talk or think about moral obligation or what one morally ought to do. This is not the case.. Her claim is rather that philosophers often use words such as morally ought in a way that makes no sense... This is not to say, however, that there are no absolutes in ethics.


A irreligious retention of 'wrong' is an unusual reading of the essay, but potential.

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