Philippa Foot

Philippa Foot is a professor of philosophy at the University of California in Los Angeles.

Life and Death

Philippa Foot, 7 August 1986

Most professional philosophers think of themselves primarily as scholars, as hunters and gatherers in the field of understanding with no particular commitment to serve society in any other role. Yet some philosophers have lately found to their delight that they can be useful: indeed that their advice is actually sought by those who have to take decisions of policy or practice. So now in England we have the Warnock Report, while in America philosophers advising hospital ethics committees have been known to carry bleepers to summon them to conferences on matters of life and death. Medical ethics – a subject unheard of only a few decades ago – is lately the main growth area in philosophical publishing, with books, anthologies and journals on subjects such as abortion, euthanasia and medical experimentation tumbling out at a prodigious rate.

Letter

Good Things

5 September 1996

Colin McGinn was right (LRB, 5 September) to praise the work of the late Warren Quinn. His extraordinary talent made Quinn pre-eminent in the small group of philosophical friends working together on moral philosophy in the UCLA philosophy department of the Eighties. But McGinn was wrong to suggest that Gavin Lawrence’s work is derived from Quinn’s. I know this because Lawrence had expounded...
Letter

Life and Death

7 August 1986

SIR: Two correspondents in the last number of your paper take issue with me. We should ask the first, Vera Liebert, if we are to kill severely retarded children for their sakes, or for ours? And is it all right to kill the senile as well, provided they are senile enough?Gerard Elfstrom seems to have missed the long central paragraph of my review in which I single out for reasoned criticism the mistake...

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