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G. E. M. Anscombe (1919 – 2001) was a British philosopher of the concepts of intention, action, practical reasoning and ethics. Those who try to make room for sex as mere casual enjoyment pay the penalty: they become shallow.

Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe

G. E. M. Anscombe was a British analytic philosopher.


Quotations from Elizabeth Anscombe

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.

Principles that are mistakenly high and strict are a trap; they may easily lead in the end directly or indirectly to the justification of monstrous things.

Those who try to make room for sex as mere casual enjoyment pay the penalty: they become shallow. At any rate the talk that reflects and commends this attitude is always shallow. They dishonour their own bodies; holding cheap what is naturally connected with the origination of human life.

Implicitly, lasciviousness is over and over again treated as hateful, even by those who would dislike such an explicit judgment on it. Just listen, witness the scurrility when it’s hinted at; disgust when it’s portrayed as the stuff of life; shame when it’s exposed, the leer of complicity when it’s approved. You don’t get these attitudes with everybody all of the time; but you do get them with everybody.

Intercourse is a normal part of married life through the whole life of the partners in a marriage and is normally engaged in without any distinct purpose other than to have it, just as such a part of married life.

It is not possible to have a [coherent law conception of ethics] unless you believe in God as a law-giver… It is as if the notion ‘criminal’ were to remain when criminal law and criminal courts had been abolished and forgotten.

But we lay people are not less called to the Christian life, in which the critical question is: “Where does the compass-needle of your mind and will point?” This is tested above all by our reactions when it costs or threatens to cost something to be a Christian. One should be glad if it does, rather than complain! If we will not let it cost anything; if we succumb to the threat of “losing our life”, then our religion is indistinguishable from pure worldliness.


Sources for Elizabeth Anscombe quotes; Your Dictionary, WikiQuote, Stanford Encyclopedia of PhilosophyInternet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vox-nova,


COMMENTS on Elizabeth Anscombe

Those who try to make room for sex as mere casual enjoyment pay the penalty: they become shallow. Anscombe’s more famous personal writings concern people’s relationship with sex and marriage, where she makes a philosophically grounded case for exclusivity of sex within a marriage. This is a subject that needed to be dealt with in depth, because it is fundamental to human existence. Just listen, witness the scurrility when it’s hinted at; disgust when it’s portrayed as the stuff of life; shame when it’s exposed, the leer of complicity when it’s approved. She sets a standard of behavior that is not too difficult for normal people to align themselves with, and the reward of doing so is not to please some unseen moral guiding principle, but to live a tranquil and satisfying life.

Principles that are mistakenly high and strict are a trap; they may easily lead in the end directly or indirectly to the justification of monstrous things. Setting impossibly high standards that are too idealistic for normal humans to conform to creates a distorted world view that commonly leads to a reactionary behavior that is injurious to others and to the believer. That behavior compounds within the believer to feelings of failure which are soon followed by guilt and self-loathing; setting realistic standards for oneself that can be complied with will yield a tranquil life.

The denial of any distinction between foreseen and intended consequences, as far as responsibility is concerned, … explains the difference between old-fashioned Utilitarianism and the Consequentialism.

 

Utilitarianism was founded on the principle that what works best is what should be done, but Consequentialism adds in the moral outcome of the foreseen actions and their intended consequences; it adds the impacts on others to the personal benefits of an action.

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