Moral Philosophy Seminar (Monday - Week 7, HT19)

Moral Philosophy Seminar

Moral Philosophy Seminar

A central idea in Anscombe's philosophy of action is that of practical knowledge, the formally distinctive knowledge a person has of what she is intentionally doing. Anscombe also discusses the notion of 'practical truth', an idea she borrows from Aristotle, which on her interpretation is a kind of truth whose bearer is not thought or language, but *action*. What is the relationship between practical knowledge and practical truth? What we might call the 'Simple View' of this relationship holds that practical knowledge is knowledge of practical truth. But the Simple View isn't obviously available, since we have practical knowledge of *all* our intentional actions, whereas an action manifests practical truth in Aristotle's sense only if it is a case of *doing well*. I suggest that we can best understand how practical knowledge and practical truth relate to one another in Anscombe's work by distinguishing a stronger ethical version and a weaker action-theoretical version of each notion. This allows me to maintain a complex version of the Simple View, on which practical knowledge in the strong sense is knowledge of practical truth in the strong sense, and practical knowledge in the weak sense is knowledge of practical truth in the weak sense. Although Anscombe did not make these distinctions explicitly, I argue that they are at least implicit in her discussion.


Members of the audience are invited to join the speaker and the convenor for drinks and dinner at a local restaurant following the talk (at their own expense). Please contact Ed Lamb at edward.lamb@philosophy.ox.ac.uk to reserve a place. There will obviously be some limit on the number of people who can attend.  In future terms the event time may be changed to 15.00, which would make it possible for all to go to pre-dinner drinks. Please let Ed Lamb know if this change of time would make you more or less likely to attend.
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