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4:00 PM The Intention of Intention

Yale University

Linsly-Chittenden Hall, Room 208.

4:00 pm

A lecture by Prof. John Schwenkler (Florida State University)

This lecture is free and open to the public.

This lecture is sponsored by the Thomistic Institute.

Speaker Bio:

John Schwenkler is a philosopher at Florida State University and the editor of the Brains blog. His research interests cluster around a number of topics in epistemology and the philosophy of mind and action. He also teaches and writes about lots of other things beyond those research foci. He has five children and is an avid runner.

Lecture Description:

Elizabeth Anscombe's monograph Intention is based on a course of lectures that she delivered at the University of Oxford during Hilary Term of 1957. Anscombe's philosophical interest in the topic of intention and intentional action crystallized in 1956 during her controversial opposition to the university's decision to award an honorary degree to former US President Harry Truman—a man she regarded as a murderer in light of his decision to order the bombing of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and thus did not think worthy of the university's honors.

While Anscombe saw a great deal of self-serving flattery among those who defended the decision to honor Truman, she thought as well that some distinctly philosophical errors lay behind their willingness to praise or excuse Truman's actions, and her philosophical project in Intention is ultimately in the service of combating these doctrines. To appreciate the force and originality of her argument, we need to situate it in this light.