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Anscombe, Foot, Midgley and Murdoch
Graduate Program (& Advanced Certificate) Status
Course Description

Within the course of their lifetimes Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Mary Midgley and Iris Murdoch were all significant and influential figures within philosophy. Despite the challenges of being a woman in philosophy at the time, they published ground-breaking papers, held prestigious positions, and have inspired many influential thinkers up to the present day. Anscombe’s work Intention is a recognized classic, Foot is generally credited as an initiator of the interest in neo-Aristotelian virtue theory, Midgley was the public face of philosophy in Britain for many years, and Murdoch’s wide-reaching thinking is recognized as having inspired a variety of philosophers such as John McDowell, Cora Diamond and Charles Taylor.


In recent years there has been growing interest in their work, and particularly in the thought that they constitute a rare all-female philosophical school. This course will introduce students to each of their work, primarily focusing on their broadly ethical thought. It will also situate their thinking in the context of the philosophical trends of the time and consider the extent to which it is right to think of them as a philosophical school. 

Learning Outcomes

In studying this course, students will:

  • Become acquainted with some of the major ideas of each of the thinkers

  • Critically engage with their ethics and philosophy of mind/action

  • Develop a sense of whether it is right to think of them as forming a philosophical school


In-class presentation: 15%

Short mid-term assignment: 25%

Final written work: 60%

Late essays will be penalized unless there are special circumstances warranting an extension. In this case, contact me as soon as possible to request an extension. 

Students should discuss their final essay title and plan with me.

Assessment and Grading Criteria 

Students will be assessed according to their: 

  • Understanding of the key issues and texts 

  • Clarity and nuance of expression 

  • Contribution to the debates

Some good advice on writing philosophy essays can be found here:

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