Margaret Cavendish, Environmental Ethics, and Panpsychism

Stewart Duncan
University of Florida
Margaret Cavendish (1623-73) held a number of surprising philosophical views. These included a materialist panpsychism, and some views in what we might call environmental ethics. Panpsychism, though certainly not unheard of, is still often a surprising view. Views in environmental ethics - even just views that involve a measure of environmental concern - are unusual to find in early modern European philosophy. Cavendish held both of these surprising views. One might suspect that panpsychism provides some reasons for environmental concern. I argue, however, that Cavendish did not derive her environmental ethics from her panpsychism. If there is a connection, it is a developmental one, leading from the ethics to the panpsychism. The investigation of these issues also provides an occasion for thinking more generally about how Cavendish's views fit together, and whether she developed a systematic philosophy in the manner of several of her contemporaries.
Keywords cavendish  environmental ethics  panpsychism
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