Margaret Cavendish, Feminist Ethics, and the Problem of Evil




Hernandez, Jill Graper

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This paper argues that, although Margaret Cavendish's main philosophical contributions are not in philosophy of religion, she makes a case for a defense of God, in spite of the worst sorts of harms being present in the world. Her arguments about those harms actually presage those of contemporary feminist ethicists, which positions Cavendish's scholarship in a unique position: it makes a positive theodical contribution, by relying on evils that contemporary atheists think are the best evidence against the existence of God. To demonstrate that Cavendish's work should be considered as early modern feminist theodicy, this paper will briefly introduce the contemporary feminist worry about theodicy as a project, show that Cavendish shares the contemporary feminist view about situated evil, and argue that her theodicy aims for agreement about how to eradicate great moral evils while preserving free will—and so, carves out a space for future female philosophers of religion who aim to be agents of healing in the face of such evil.



Margaret Cavendish, theodicy, problem of evil, free will, feminist ethics, atrocity paradigm, redemptive goods, divine justice


Religions 9 (4): 132 (2018)


Philosophy and Classics