Lecturer, Department of Philosophy


Mara van der Lugt is 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 ecology. She has worked extensively on the philosophical tradition known as ‘pessimism’, and the debate on whether life is worth living. Her 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.

From 2022-2023 she will be a Leverhulme Research Fellow, working on a project called ‘The Value of Nature in the History of Philosophy’. 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 philosophers have answered this question in changing ways in the history of Western philosophy.

Selected publications

Van der Lugt, M. Dark Matters: Pessimism and the Problem of Suffering (Princeton University Press, 2021). https://press.princeton.edu/books/hardcover/9780691206622/dark-matters

Van der Lugt, M. ‘In these dark times, the virtue we need is hopeful pessimism. Aeon (26 Apr. 2022). https://aeon.co/essays/in-these-dark-times-the-virtue-we-need-is-hopeful-pessimism

Van der Lugt, M. ‘Pessimism’. The Philosopher, vol. 107, no. 4 (2019). https://www.thephilosopher1923.org/post/pessimism.

Van der Lugt, M. Bayle, Jurieu, and the Dictionnaire Historique et Critique (Oxford University Press 2016). https://global.oup.com/academic/product/bayle-jurieu-and-the-dictionnaire-historique-et-critique-9780198769262?cc=gb&lang=en&