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Summary

In her 1958 article "Modern Moral Philosophy", British philosopher Elizabeth (G. E. M.) Anscombe does nothing less than challenge the very foundations of moral philosophy, the discipline that tries to understand right and wrong action. The article sets out three main ideas. First, that moral philosophy should not be explored until a philosophy of psychology is already in place. Second, that philosophers who do not believe in God should not use ideas about "obligation" and "duty". Why? Because they are a hangover from an earlier, more religious time, when moral philosophy was based on our relation to God. Last, that modern philosophers had been unoriginal and had been united in their belief that only consequences matter to morality.

Anscombe's article helped to promote virtue ethics, which considers a person's moral character when evaluating ethical behavior. This provided an important alternative to the dominant schools of thought at the time, schools that focused on judgments about ethics based on set rules (deontology) or on actions that produced the best outcome for the most people (utilitarianism).

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