Abstract for Rachael Wiseman

Linguistic Idealism & Human Essence

G. E. M. Anscombe, following Wittgenstein, endorses a ‘partial linguistic idealism’: some things that fall under human concepts are dependent for their existence on human thought. Among those things that are so dependent, she says, are rules, rights and promises. This paper will explore the ethical implications of this claim, and will connect Anscombe’s linguistic idealism about rules, rights and promises with two central features of her influential ‘Modern Moral Philosophy’. First, her attack on the idea of a ‘moral ought’ and ‘moral duty’; second, her appeal to human action description and the language of virtue.

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