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College of Liberal Arts
University of Mississippi

Event Calendar

If you have questions or require assistance relating to a disability, please contact the College of Liberal Arts at or (662) 915-1778, or contact the phone or email that may be listed for the particular event. 

Event Information:

  • Thu

    Philosophy Forum Series: Dr. Alison Peterman, The University of Rochester

    4:00 pmZoom (Details below)

    Margaret Cavendish on materialism and metaphysical structure

    Abstract: Margaret Cavendish is a materialist: she thinks that the only thing that exists is matter. It is easy to
    think that we know what this means and that we know what motivates a person to believe it: it means that there
    are no immaterial objects or properties, and it is motivated because restricting explanations and ontological
    posits to material things is naturalistic, parsimonious, or explanatorily beneficial in some other way. In this
    paper I argue that this is not the best way to understand the primary meaning and motivation of Cavendish’s
    Instead, it is first and foremost a commitment to a single-category, nonhierarchical ontology, which is to say,
    for her, an ontology of parts and wholes. As a part of this ontology, Cavendish eliminates all substance-property
    structure - a radical reductionist project that I briefly contrast with Spinoza’s reverse reductionist project. As
    usual with Cavendish, her metaphysics is fascinatingly unique but results from drawing out some of our deepest
    implicit metaphysical commitments. So on the way, I hope to shed a little light on materialism and physicalism
    more generally, as well as on the relationship between mereology and property metaphysics.

    The format of this event will be a workshop of Dr. Peterman’s paper. Requests for an advance copy of
    the paper, as well as the Zoom link, can be directed to Dr. Neil Manson (

    More information about future UM Philosophy Forum events can be found on the department calendar