Philippa Foot RIP

With great sadness we note the death of Philippa Foot (1920-2010) on Oct 3, her 90th birthday.  She died peacefully after a series of illnesses.

Philippa’s thought was important in recent developments of ethics, perhaps most especially her views on virtue ethics. “One of the towering figures of post-WWII Anglophone moral philosophy, Brian Leiter reminds us.   She will be particularly deeply missed by her many students and friends.

Sometimes someone might be inclined to treat her arguments as allowing easy refutation.  I have always wished for them the sort of interchange many of her students may remember well.  One version, familiar at least among some,  started as a response to some view one proposed:   “O, you think that, do you?  Hmmm.  Now let me see.  I don’t think I’ve ever thought that could be right.  But let’s think.  I could just be quite wrong.”  Her voice light but quite firm, eyes sparkling.

We will put up links to obituaries as they appear.

Lesley Brown sent the guardian obit.

More about Foot here.

3 thoughts on “Philippa Foot RIP

  1. That is sad news.

    Anyone inclined to treat her arguments as allowing easy refutation ought to be locked in a room with nothing but “Morality as a System of Hypothetical Imperatives” for company until they see the error of their ways.

  2. A great philosopher.

    I was moved by this sentence from Lawrence Solum’s remembrance (linkto from Leiter’s post):

    “I remember Foot remarking of a single sentence in a famous piece by Tim Scanlon that she was sure that Scanlon must have spent years thinking about that sentence: I am not sure that Scanlon did, but it would have been characteristic of Foot to do so.”

  3. I’ve been meaning to stop by and offer my condolences to JJ. You knew her, didn’t you?

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