Anton Ford

Anton Ford joined the faculty in 2007 and is an Assistant Professor in Philosophy. He received his B.A. from Harvard University in 1999 and his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in 2008. His primary research and teaching interests are in Practical Philosophy, understood broadly to include Action Theory, Ethics and Political Philosophy. Figures of special interest include Aristotle, Anscombe, and Marx. Anton Ford is the Director of Undergraduate Studies.



office: Stuart Hall 210
phone: 773-702-0827



Anton Ford was awarded a Franke Institute of Humanities Fellowship for the academic year 2014-2015.

"In the Engine Room of Reality: Philosophy’s junior faculty members discuss their work, inspiration, and teaching" by Courtney C. W. Guerra, AB’05 Tableau, Spring 2012 - Link


Edited Volume

  • Essays on Anscombe's Intention (with Jennifer Hornsby and  Frederick Stoutland), Harvard University Press, 2011 Link

Selected Writings

  • "The Just and the Fine: A Response to Irwin," Classical Philology, Vol. 105, No. 4, Special Issue: Beauty, Harmony, and the Good. Edited by Elizabeth Asmis (October 2010), pp. 396-402. Link
  • "The Parts and Whole of Plato's Republic," with Ben Laurence.(Available upon request)
  • Action & Generality (PDF)

Recent & Upcoming Courses

29901-01, -02, -03, -04. Senior Seminar I. PQ: Consent of director of undergraduate studies. Note(s): Required and only open to fourth-year students who have been accepted into the BA essay program.  Students writing senior essays register once for PHIL 29901, in either the Autumn or Winter Quarter, and once for PHIL 29902, in either the Winter or Spring Quarter. (Students may not register for both PHIL 29901 and 29902 in the same quarter.) The senior seminar meets all three quarters, and students writing essays are required to attend throughout. 2015-2016.

PHIL 21410/31410. Philosophy of Action. What is action? What is it to act? In this introduction to the philosophy of action, we will read classic 20th Century treatments of the subject by Gilbert Ryle, Elizabeth Anscombe and Donald Davidson, as well as more recent work by Jennifer Hornsby, Michael Thompson and others. (I) (A) Winter 2016.

41205. Virtue. What kind of characteristic is virtue? In addressing this question, we will first consider Aristotle’s account of virtue. Then we will read some work by neo-Aristotelian “virtue ethicists” including Geach, Anscombe, Foot, Hursthouse, MacIntyre, Vogler, and Thompson. (I) Autumn 2013.

21000. Introduction to Ethics. In this course, we will read, write, think, and talk about moral philosophy, focusing on two classic texts, Immanuel Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism.  We will work through both texts carefully, and have a look at influential criticisms of utilitarianism and of Kant's ethics in the concluding weeks of the term. This course is intended as an introductory course in moral philosophy. Some prior work in philosophy is helpful, but not required. (A) Spring 2014.

21423. Introduction to Marx. Open to college students. No prerequisites. This introduction to marxism divides itself into three parts: in the first, we consider Marx‘s theory of history; in the second, his critique of capitalism; and in the third, the classical marxist understanding of communist revolution. Spring 2009, Autumn 2010, Autumn 2011. Syllabus

24130/34130. Anscombe on Action and Ethics. PQ: At least 1 prior course in philosophy. G. E. M. Anscombe’s 1957 book, Intention, inaugurated the field of inquiry known as the philosophy of action. Though human action had always been an important philosophical topic, it had usually been discussed in a specifically ethical context, where questions of right and wrong were of primary importance. Anscombe sought a provisional isolation of the topic of action, on the grounds that modern ethics was confused about some of its fundamental concepts. In her influential essay “Modern Moral Philosophy,” Anscombe went so far as to say that it was no longer profitable to do ethics, and that it would not become so again until one regained some clarity about “what type of characteristic a virtue is… and how it is related to the actions in which it is instanced,” an account of which in turn presupposed an account of “what a human action is at all, and how its description as ‘doing such-and-such’ is affected by its motive and by the intention or intentions in it.” Nevertheless, over the course of her career, Anscombe wrote copiously on recognizably ethical topics—e.g., on war; on murder; on the authority of the state; on the nature of a promise; and on the doctrine of double effect. In this course, we will consider Anscombe’s theory of action alongside her ethical writings, each in part for its own sake, but guided by the question how the philosophy of action is related to ethics. (A) (I) Winter 2012.

21000. Introduction to Ethics. (=HIPS 21000, ISHU 29200) The central question of ethics, as traditionally conceived, is how we ought to live, or how we ought to live together. This course begins with the examination of two ancient expressions of “immoralism,” according to which it is only a kind of a high-minded foolishness to think of the good of another, or to worry oneself about justice. We consider how this challenge is addressed by Plato and, then, overleaping the centuries, by a number of modern and contemporary authors.(A). Autumn 2009.

51309. Knowing-How and Knowing-That What is it to know how to do something? And how, if at all, is it different from knowing that something is the case? The now-familiar distinction between "knowing-how" and "knowing-that" was first discussed by Gilbert Ryle in his 1949 book, The Concept of Mind. Though it soon became a standard piece of philosophical equipment, the Rylean distinction has recently come under vigorous attack. As time permits the course will examine (i) Ryle's original treatment of the topic and its development by Kenny and others; (ii) the recent critical discussion of this; and (iii) some ancient and modern sources of the idea that there is a kind of productive power—exemplified by, say, the "art" of medicine, or the "craft" of carpentry—that is not, or not simply, a knowledge of facts, but that nevertheless deserves to be called knowledge. (III). Winter 2010.

55909. Aristotle on Justice & Political Friendship. This course will examine some of Aristotle's ethical and political writings with a view to understanding his theory of justice and political friendship. As time permits we will consider Aristotle's distinction between general and particular justice, his distinction between distributive and rectificatory justice, his claim that man is a "political animal,"  his account of slavery and other forms of rule, the varieties of friendship, and his views about the best form of political constitution. Co-taught with G. Lear (IV). Spring 2010.

21605. Justice. Open to college and graduate students. This course will explore a tradition of thought about justice that extends from Plato through Kant. The tradition is distinguished by, among other things, its tendency to conceive justice "holistically," rather than "atomistically"---that is, as holding among the elements of a certain sort of system, and not between a number of discrete individuals. As time permits, we will read selections from Plato's Gorgias and Republic, from Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and Politics, from Aquinas' Summa Theologica, from Rousseau's On the Social Contract and from Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and The Critique of Teleological Judgment. Autumn 2008. Syllabus

51504. Action and Practical Knowledge. Open to graduate students. A person typically knows what she is doing intentionally. Is that because she observes herself doing it? And if not, what is the ground of her knowledge? G. E. M. Anscombe has argued that knowledge of one's own intentional action is knowledge of a very special kind, which she calls "practical": it is not based on observation, but is, in the words of Aquinas, "the cause of what it knows." In the last decade, philosophers of all sorts have taken a renewed interest in Anscombe, and especially in her doctrine of practical knowledge. We will examine this doctrine as well as some of the recent literature. Winter 2009. Syllabus