Research Interests

My areas of specialisation are:

  • Women philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
  • Early modern philosophy (incl. ethics, politics, and metaphysics)
  • History of feminist philosophy (c. 1600-1800)

My latest research has focused on theories of virtue and the Cartesian passions in early modern women’s philosophy, as well as the concept of republican liberty and connections between political slavery and marriage in early modern feminist thought. I am also interested in the history of women’s rights in relation to freedom and virtue.

I am willing to supervise honours and postgraduate students – please do get in touch if you have a project in mind.

My past projects include an Australian Research Council-funded project on the history of women’s political thought, with Karen Green (DP0450330, 2004-06). I have recently been engaged in two further Australian Research Council-funded research projects (DP140100109, 2014-16, and FT0991199, 2010-16):

i. The Women and Liberty Project

The main purpose of this project is to enhance our appreciation of women’s moral, metaphysical, and political ideas about freedom in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

For an introduction to the topic, see my survey article “Women on Liberty in Early Modern England” in Philosophy Compass 9, no. 2 (2014): 112-22. This essay provides an overview of early modern women’s ideas about liberty as self-determination, freedom from external interference, and freedom from domination.

As part of this project, Karen Detlefsen (University of Pennsylvania) and myself recently published a co-edited volume of papers, Women and Liberty, 1600-1800: Philosophical Essays (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).

This volume arose out of an invited symposium on “Women on Liberty, 1600-1800” at the Monash Prato Centre in Italy in June-July 2014, with scholars from Italy, Australia, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Wales, Canada, and the United States.

women philosophy flyer_finalAlso as part of this project, Karen Green (Melbourne) and myself organised the 16th Symposium for the International Association of Women Philosophers, at Monash in Melbourne, Australia, 7-10 July 2016.

The conference themes reflected the broad scope of contemporary research on historical women philosophers, on feminist ethics and politics, and on questions of feminist epistemology.

ii. The Astell Project

Broad_Philosophy_Astell_CoverMary Astell (1666–1731) was an early modern philosopher who lived in an age of philosophical greats, such as Leibniz, Locke, and Spinoza.

Like these men, she asked questions concerning the foundations of knowledge, the existence of God, the nature of soul and body, and our duties and obligations as moral and political subjects.

Unlike these men, she was preoccupied with the concerns of women: their lack of education, their subjection in marriage, and the general absence of freedom in their lives.

Past scholars have interpreted Astell’s writings primarily in terms of her feminist, political, and theological commitments. With this project, I approach Astell as a moral philosopher in the classical sense of someone who offers guidance on how to live.

My main purpose is to raise Astell’s profile – and the profile of women philosophers more generally – in the history of philosophy.

Toward this end, I have published a book on The Philosophy of Mary Astell (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), examining Astell’s epistemology, theology, metaphysics, feminism, and politics from the point of view of her theory of virtue.

astell_CR_coverI also recently published a modernised edition of Astell’s The Christian Religion as Profess’d by a Daughter of the Church of England  in The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: Toronto series, now available on amazon.

To view downloadable copies of my recent papers on Astell, click here.