Anscombe on the mesmeric force of ‘ought’ and a spurious kind of moral realism

Etica E Politica 19 (2):51-86 (2017)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
I discuss the second of the three theses advanced by Anscombe in ‘Modern Moral Philosophy’. The focus is the nature of entities to which – if Anscombe’s diagnosis is correct – ought and cognate modals are assumed by modern moral philosophers to refer. I reconstruct the alternative account offered by Anscombe of viable and justified ‘Aristotelian’ modals – as contrasted with mysterious and unjustified ‘Kantian’ modals; I discuss the nature and status of ‘Aristotelian necessity’ to which such legitimate modals refer to. I conclude with the claims that Anscombe’s account of modern moral philosophy is viciously parochial, reducing it to Oxford philosophy from the Thirties and Forties and its immediate antecedents; that her historical reconstruction is vitiated by lack of awareness of the existence of law-views of morality preceding Christian theology, artful anticipation of secularization in order to fit her picture of modern moral philosophy as the ‘day after’ of Christianity; that Aquinas’s and her own view of natural morality as made of rational moral judgments laws is incompatible with both her predilection for ‘divine law’ instead of plain down-to-earth ‘natural law’; that her strained reconstruction of a Christian-Jewish-Stoic view of morality as law promulgated by God has little to share with any reconstruction of the Biblical moral traditions meeting academic standard and in more detail there is no possible translation of Torah as Law; and that her criticism hits just targets from the old little British world she was familiar with, while leaving Kantian ethics unaffected.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
Revision history
First archival date: 2020-03-22
Latest version: 2 (2020-03-22)
View upload history
References found in this work BETA
Modern Moral Philosophy.Anscombe, G. E. M.
Letter From the Editor.[author unknown]
Moral Arguments.Foot, Philippa
On Brute Facts.Anscombe, G. E. M.

View all 13 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Added to PP index

Total views
35 ( #45,563 of 50,147 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
32 ( #19,716 of 50,147 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.