Mara van der Lugt

Mara van der Lugt


  • KY16 9AL

    United Kingdom

Personal profile

Research overview

I am a lecturer in philosophy at the University of St Andrews, working mainly on the history of philosophy (17th C – current day) but also on issues in contemporary philosophy, such as environmental ethics, animal ethics, and the philosophy of climate change. I’ve worked extensively on the philosophical tradition known as ‘pessimism’, and am currently exploring the concept of ‘hopeful pessimism’ in relation to climate crisis. My book Dark Matters: Pessimism and the Problem of Suffering (Princeton 2021) was listed as one of the Times Literary Supplement Books of the Year 2021, and received an Honourable Mention from the Journal of the History of Philosophy Book Prize. My new book Begetting: What Does It Mean To Create A Child? is coming out with Princeton in April 2024.

My research is inspired by a double background in history and philosophy. During my studies of philosophy at Erasmus University Rotterdam, I became fascinated by early modern philosophy and the works of the seventeenth-century French philosopher Pierre Bayle in particular, and so he became the focus of both my PhD studies at the University of Oxford and my first book, Bayle, Jurieu, and the Dictionnaire Historique et Critique (Oxford University Press, 2016). After completing my doctorate, I spent two years as a postdoctoral researcher at the Lichtenberg Kolleg in Göttingen before coming to St Andrews in 2017, as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the School of History.

I am currently working on a project called ‘The Value of Nature in the History of Philosophy’ (supported by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship in 2022-2023). This project addresses the question of whether nature, aside from the value it has for humans, also has value in and of itself – and how this intersects or collides with questions of animal suffering.

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, 'Pierre, or the Ambiguities': Bayle, Jurieu, and the Dictionnaire Historique et Critique, University of Oxford

Award Date: 23 Jul 2014

Master of Philosophy


  • B Philosophy (General)
  • pessimism
  • problem of evil
  • optimism
  • D901 Europe (General)
  • Enlightenment
  • early modern philosophy


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