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Deborah Boyle


Address: 16 Glebe Street, Room 200
Phone: 843.953.5687

Deborah Boyle earned a B.A. in Philosophy from Wellesley College, and an M.A. and the University of Pittsburgh (1999). Her primary research interests are in the history of modern philosophy, especially early modern women philosophers and David Hume. She has published articles on Mary Astell, Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, Descartes, and Hume, and is the author of Descartes on Innate on Ideas (Continuum, 2009) and The Well-Ordered Universe: The Philosophy of Margaret Cavendish (Oxford University Press, 2018). She is currently editing a volume of selected philosophical writings of Lady Mary Shepherd (1777-1847), due to be published in the Library of Scottish Philosophy series in December 2018.


1999 - Ph.D., Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh
1993 - M.A., Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh
1989 - B.A., Philosophy, Wellesley College
1987-88 - Oxford University, Somerville College (junior year abroad)

Research Interests

  • History of modern philosophy
  • Descartes and Hume
  • 17th century women philosophers, Anne Conway and Margaret Cavendish


“Feminism and Early Modern Philosophy.” Forthcoming in The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Philosophy, ed. Ásta Sveinsdottir and Kim Q. Hall.

“Informed by ‘Sense and Reason’: Margaret Cavendish’s Theorizing about Perception.” Forthcoming in History and Philosophy of Perception, ed. Brian R. Glenney and Filipe Pereira da Silva. Routledge.

 “Hume and Animal Ethics.” Forthcoming in The Humean Mind, ed. Angela Coventry and Alex Sager. Routledge.

 “Expanding the Canon of Scottish Philosophy: The Case for Adding Mary Shepherd.” The Journal of Scottish Philosophy 15 no. 3 (2017): 275-93.

 “Margaret Cavendish on the Eternity of Created Matter.” In Early Modern Women on Metaphysics, ed. Emily Thomas, pp. 111-130. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018.

 “Freedom and Necessity in the Work of Margaret Cavendish.” In Women and Liberty 1600-1800, ed. Jacqueline Broad and Karen Detlefsen, pp. 141-162. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

 "Margaret Cavendish on Perception, Self-Knowledge, and Probable Opinion.” Philosophy Compass 10, no. 7 (July 2015): 438-450.

 The Well-Ordered Universe: The Philosophy of Margaret Cavendish. New York: Oxford Univeristy Press. (2018)

“Margaret Cavendish on Gender, Nature, and Freedom.”  Hypatia 28, no. 3 (Summer 2013): 516-32.

“The Ways of the Wise: Hume’s Rules of Causal Reasoning.”  Hume Studies 38, no. 2 (April 2012).

"Mary Astell and Cartesian 'Scientia.'"  In The New Science and Women's Literary Discourse: Prefiguring Frankenstein, ed. Judy Hayden (Palgrave Press).

Descartes on Innate Ideas.  London: Continuum, 2009.

"Spontaneous and Sexual Generation in Conway's Principles." In The Problem of Animal Generation in Modern Philosophy, ed. Justin E. H. Smith, 175-193.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

"Fame, Virtue, and Government: Margaret Cavendish on Ethics and Politics." Journal of the History of Ideas 67, no. 2 (April 2006).

"Margaret Cavendish's Nonfeminist Natural Philosophy." Configurations 12  (2004): 195-227.

"Hume on Animal Reason." Hume Studies 29, no.1 (April 2003): 3-28.

"Decartes on Innate Ideas." The Modern Schoolman 78 (November 2000): 35-50.

"Descartes' Natural Light Reconsidered." Journal of the History of Philosophy 37, no. 4 (October 1999).