Reading group: Anscombe, Foot, Midgley, Murdoch

Please find below the invitation for a reading group on Anscombe, Foot, Midgley, and Murdoch meeting on Thursdays 6-7pm, at the main lecture hall at the Royal Institute of Philosophy, 14 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0AR. All are welcome. Any queries, please contact Wartime Quartet Reading Group (

Analytic philosophy is associated with a line of founding fathers, and the schools and movements that grew around them. Most of the questions that preoccupy that strand of philosophy today stem from, or have been shaped by, those schools. But those were not the only voices in the philosophical arena. Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Mary Midgley, and Iris Murdoch became friends as undergraduates at Oxford University during WWII, and remained life-long philosophical companions. During their time at Oxford, they developed a shared philosophical agenda, method, and stance which, as we will explore, may mark them out as a distinct philosophical school. This reading group is part of a project aimed to elicit recognition of the body of work of these women and to reclaim their philosophy afresh for today.

Practical Information
The reading group will run alongside RIP’s Wartime Quartet lecture series, dedicated to the work of these women, as a complementary resource. The meetings are running on Thursday nights from 6 – 7 pm in the main lecture hall at 14 Gordon Square. We invite everyone interested to come along.

These sessions will be taken by Ana Barandalla, Research Associate at In Parenthesis, and Hannah Marije Altorf, Reader in Philosophy at St. Mary’s University.

For the Group’s reading list, please visit

For the RIP’s Wartime Quartet lectures which this reading group will complement, see

For more on the broader project of which this reading group is part, please visit

2 thoughts on “Reading group: Anscombe, Foot, Midgley, Murdoch

  1. I have not been sure quite how to take this. There was a group of women philosophers in the 60’s at Somerville. Some of us had very close relationships with Foot and Anscombe that went well beyond our time as students., I know that for some of us their impact remains remarkable.

    I don’t think any of us have been contacted by this group. I hope I am wrong about that. They couldn’t, surely, have missed out on Rosalind Hursthouse, or Miichael Thompson, whom Philippa held in such high esteem. Rosalind, in qddition to having written lots about Foot and Ancombe also knew Murdoch and Mdgeky. And there’s Gavin Lawrence, with whom Philippa met regularly in recent years. Still, i’ll be doing entries on the Somerville group for a commissioned forth-coming work and it seems odd to have these two projects intersect only in topic.

    I was a senior research fellow at Somerville for the last two years; otherwise, I might feel mysel entirely invisible.

  2. Hi Anne – thanks for taking time to post this message. We’re really pleased to hear about the work you’re doing work on the Quartet – or a subset of them anyway – and we’d love to know more. Please do drop me an email ( We’ve been approaching our topic in a rather piecemeal way, focussing mostly on getting the word out and on the period during and immediately after the war but the influence of the four on the next generation is something we’re keen to learn more about. Rachael

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