An Anscombe Anecdote

“[Elizabeth Anscombe] came to public notice once again in the mid 1950s when she organized a motion to deny Harry Truman an honorary degree from Oxford University on the grounds that the university should not honor a man who had been the prime instigator in the dropping of atomic bombs on the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Although it is hardly credible today that a British academic audience might be given an opportunity to shame an American president, and let the opportunity slip through their fingers, that is what happened. Anscombe’s motion received only four votes–her own vote, and the votes of her colleagues, Philippa Foot and Margaret Hubbard, and the vote of Oxford historian M. R. D. Foot. It has been plausibly alleged that it was the disillusionment she suffered from garnering so little support for this motion, especially from the moral philosophers at Oxford, that led her to turn her attention to ethics…”

David Solomon, “Elizabeth Anscombe’s ‘Modern Moral Philosophy’: Fifty Years Later,” Christian Bioethics, no. 14 (2008), 109-122.

It has always astounded me how among American evangelicals there is so little debate about whether or not Truman’s actions were the right thing to do.

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