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Intention in Action

The Philosophy of G. E. M. Anscombe


Pathiaraj Rayappan

G. E. M. Anscombe was one of the important philosophers of the twentieth century. Her most famous works are Intention and Modern Moral Philosophy and have given origin to the new branch called Philosophy of Action and have been an impetus for the revival of Virtue Ethics. This book studies G. E. M. Anscombe’s evaluation of moral theories and moral actions based on her findings in Philosophical Psychology. The author argues that a moral evaluation solely from the point of view of intention is insufficient and looks for a way in which this insufficiency can be overcome. Taking inspiration from Martin Rhonheimer, he finds a way to overcome this insufficiency through concepts such as the moral object, the anthropological truth of man and the practical reason, which are other essential elements to be considered in moral evaluation in addition to intention.


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General Conclusion 255


255 General Conclusion Now it is time to gather the results of the research in the form of a brief summary showing the logical order of the research and indicating an avenue for deepening this research. Our enquiry began by situating our subject matter of intention in the history of philosophy. One of our choices was Aristotle whom Anscombe has proposed as a model for doing secular philosophy. Al- though Aristotle lacks the concept of intention, as Anscombe has pointed out, he has many valuable perennial concepts with regard to human action. (1) Human action is end directed. There is an intrinsic relation between the action and the end desired: the action is a means to the end. If an action would not fetch the desired end, it would be foolish to pursue the action because the end would not be achieved anyway. And if one is pursuing an action, it means that he believes that it would achieve the end. (2) An action can have may ends to which it is directed. These ends may be related among themselves by subordination of one to another. And they are, however, related to a supreme good, eudai- monia, virtuous activity. (3) Man is a rational being. Rationality is his specific nature. Hence the best way for man to act is to act according to his rational nature, i. e., according to virtue. Acting in a balanced man- ner avoiding extremes of too much or too little would be acting accord- ing...

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