The 9th Annual Women in the History of Philosophy Lecture: Ethics in a “World of Women”
Ethics in a “World of Women”: Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Mary Midgley and Iris Murdoch
12 May 2017 2.30-4.30pm Hicks LTD
The annual Women in the History of Philosophy lecture is sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and aims to increase awareness of the work of women in the history of Philosophy.
Anscombe, Foot, Midgley and Murdoch: A female philosophical school?
Analytic philosophy is associated with a line of founding fathers. Also prominent in its history are the philosophical schools and movements that grew up around its dominant male figures. The figure of the analytic philosophical sage, a character who figures in many of Murdoch’s novels, appears: a man who speaks gnomically, ruthlessly exposes nonsense and stupidity, inspires admiration and fear in his crowd of young male follows and shuns the company of women. The dysfunctional dynamics of these philosophical schools are part of analytic philosophy’s folk history.
What is absent from that history is the collective story of four women—Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Mary Midgley and Iris Murdoch. They became friends as undergraduates at Oxford University during WWII, when the men who dominated the classrooms and the SCR were away from campus, and they remained life-long philosophical companions. In this talk we will outline a shared philosophical agenda, method and stance, collaboratively developed in Philippa Foot’s living room between 1946 and 1948. We argue that this shared programme ought to constitute them as a distinct philosophical school within the history of analytic philosophy.
In addition to presenting these women’s philosophical programme, this talk provides an opportunity to reflect on the methods and practices of analytic philosophy itself and to enquire into the dynamics which may contribute to the label of ‘school’ or ‘movement’ being withheld from groups of women.
All are welcome to attend the lecture. A reception will follow with snacks and drinks (including non-alcoholic options).
Tags: women, philosophy, lecture, research