Conference: God, Virtue, & Moral Absolutes: Anscombe’s “Modern Moral Philosophy” at 60

(part of a series)

Location: University of Notre Dame (View on map )

God, Virtue, & Moral Absolutes: Anscombe’s “Modern Moral Philosophy” at 60, a graduate student conference sponsored by the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, will take place at the University of Notre Dame on January 21-23, 2018.  

Keynote Speakers

  • Alasdair MacINTYRE, University of Notre Dame
  • Cyrille MICHON, University of Nantes
  • Rachael WISEMAN, University of Liverpool
  • Jennifer A. FREY, University of South Carolina

In 1958, the English philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe published “Modern Moral Philosophy,” one of the most influential essays in contemporary philosophy. Reacting against a half-century of British moral philosophy, Anscombe charted a path to a revival of Aristotelian moral inquiry, boldly defending three controversial theses. First, that it is “not profitable for us at present” to engage in moral philosophy until there has been the development of “an adequate philosophy of psychology” (i.e. a proper understanding of action, habit, choice etc.). Second, that the concepts “moral obligation and moral duty” presuppose the existence of a divine lawgiver and, in the absence of a belief in such a deity, should be abandoned. Third, that twentieth-century English philosophers are separated by differences “of little importance,” with such authors generally rejecting the existence of absolute moral prohibitions, should consequences be sufficiently detrimental. These claims have played a large role in the forging of contemporary research projects on virtue theory, theological ethics, the history of moral philosophy, and other matters of practical and speculative importance.

Aims and Goals

This conference aims to re-assess the legacy of this enduring work of moral reflection, both by advancing our understanding of its central contentions and by sharing cutting edge research on the concerns that motivated Anscombe six decades ago. We hope not only to enrich existing projects, but also to build new networks among scholars from a diverse set of intellectual and cultural backgrounds.


The Nanovic Institute for European Studies, part of the Keough School of Global Affairs, with additional support from:
The Graduate School, the Center for Ethics and Culture, the College of Arts and Letters, and the Departments of Philosophy, Theology, and Political Science at the University of Notre Dame, and the Collegium Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture, University of Pennsylvania.


Download the public schedule. All conference panels and keynotes will take place at McKenna Hall (Notre Dame Conference Center).



For more information, please contact: 

Melanie Webb
Events Program Manager
Nanovic Institute for European Studies
(574) 631-5123