Philosophy of everyday life

Rethinking the role of philosophy in our lives with the Oxford women philosopher quartet (Anscombe, Foot, Midgley, Murdoch)


  • Valérie Aucouturier Research Foundation Flanders



Oxford Quartet, Mary Midgley, Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Iris Murdoch, Moral Philosophy


At Oxford University, in the context of WW2, when men were largely obliged to abandon the university benches to take part in the war effort, four women philosophers, Iris Murdoch (1919-1999), Mary Midgley (1919-2018), Elizabeth Anscombe (1919-2001) and Philippa Foot (1920-2010), formed a group of philosophical reflections that would become a competitor, after the war, to John L. Austin’s famous ‘Saturday Mornings’. At the heart of the concerns of this ‘wartime quartet’: putting the importance of being human back at the centre of ethics. They opposed “modern moral philosophy” and its many presuppositions, including the claim that ethical questions are independent of the facts of human life or concern a purely rational subject abstracted from everyday issues and from its belonging to the human species. By putting the importance of being human back at the heart of their ethical reflections, these philosophers came to reflect on issues that directly concern human life, far from the philosophical abstractions that interested their men homologues. In this paper, I explore the extent to which this re-inscription of philosophy into everyday life and into ordinary human concerns, opens the way to a feminist philosophy and ethics.

Author Biography

Valérie Aucouturier, Research Foundation Flanders

Valérie Aucouturier is professor of philosophy at Université Saint-Louis, Bruxelles and a member of the Centre Prospéro. Langage, Image, Connaissance. She got her PhD in philosophy from Université Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne and The University of Kent. Her research mainly focusses on the philosophy of language, mind and action (Anscombe, Austin, Wittgenstein) and the philosophy of psychology and psychoanalysis. She has published extensively on the work of Elizabeth Anscombe.


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