A few blog posts here and there about the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima remind me of Elizabeth Anscombe’s pamphlet, “Mr. Truman’s Degree,” which she wrote to protest an honorary degree that Oxford conferred on Truman. I’m not sure what to make of the main argument of the pamphlet, exactly – I would need to know more about Truman’s decision to drop the bomb – but it’s certainly an engaging piece of writing, full of biting sarcasm and well-argued. (I taught it once, and found that the sarcasm was a bit over my students’ heads. But I’m sure it wouldn’t be over yours, dear reader.) Here’s the full bibliographical information, which I found with a bit of googling:
G. E. M. Anscombe, “Mr Truman’s Degree,” chap. 7 in her Ethics, Religion and Politics, vol. 3 of The Collected Philosophical Papers of G. E. M. Anscombe (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1981), 62-71 (essay first published in 1957).
I was unable, however, to find the full text online. Now, that strikes me as very silly. I’m willing to bet that if it weren’t illegal to post the full text on the internet, someone would have already done it. But why should it be illegal? Anscombe surely wrote the pamphlet in order to gain as wide an audience as possible for her views. I don’t see how the prohibition on republishing this one (small) part of the book serves anyone’s interests, since I doubt very much that doing so would chip into sales of the volume in which the paper has been collected. Why, I have half a fucking mind to type out the damn thing myself and post it here.
Please let me know in the comments if I’m mistaken about the legality of reposting it. Perhaps I could figure out how to scan it and post it as a pdf.