Abstract

At the start of her vigorously argued and classic article, “Modern Moral Philosophy,” G. E. M. Anscombe stated three focal theses. First, that philosophers of the time needed to dispense with investigation into talk of what is morally right, wrong; permissible, forbidden, required; and of moral obligation or duty, what we morally ought to do. Second, there was no adequate philosophical psychology then available of the sort needed for doing good moral philosophy. Third, the differences among the modernist moral philosophers ( from, roughly, Hume's time through the mid-20th century) that had been most widely discussed were not as important as what they agreed on. I wish here to make some remarks about the sequel. More specifically, I will briefly discuss some aspects of how things have since played out with the first two theses, in order to say something about the relation between the first and second theses and about the state of things with respect to her third thesis, especially as it impacts today's medical ethics, a field of inquiry that barely existed at the time Anscombe wrote “Modern Moral Philosophy.”

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