Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Professor of Philosophy
Office: Marston Hall 333
Education: BA, College of William and Mary, 1996; MA, University of Notre Dame, 2000; PhD, University of Notre Dame, 2002. At SPU since 2021.
Dr. Margaret Watkins specializes in early modern ethics and aesthetics, with a particular focus on the work of the eighteenth-century Scottish philosopher, David Hume. She is president of the international Hume Society and the author of the Philosophical Progress of Hume’s Essays (Cambridge University Press, 2019). In 2018, she was the David Hume Fellow at the Institute for the Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh. She earned her BA in philosophy from the College of William and Mary in Virginia and the MA and PhD in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame. Her recent work includes studies of race and gender in early modern thought, and she is interested in efforts to increase the inclusivity and diversity of philosophical pedagogy and scholarship. She has published articles on Hume’s ethics and aesthetics in journals such as Hume Studies, Inquiry, and History of Philosophy Quarterly and has contributed articles on Hume to several anthologies. She has also published articles on Montaigne and on the resources of Jane Austen’s novels for ethical theory and pedagogy.
The Philosophical Progress of Hume's Essays
Cambridge University Press, 2019
For those open to the possibility that philosophical thought can improve life, David Hume's Essays: Moral, Political, and Literary have something to say. In the first comprehensive study of the Essays, Margaret Watkins engages closely with these neglected texts and shows how they provide important insights into Hume's perspective on the breadth and depth of human life, arguing that the Essays reveal his continued commitment to philosophy as a discipline that can promote both social and individual progress. Addressing topics such as politics, war, slavery, the priesthood, the development of industry, aesthetics, emotional disorders, egoism, friendship, sexuality, gender relations, and the nature of philosophy itself, the volume examines Hume's purposes and aims against the backdrop of the eighteenth century society in which he lived. It will be of interest to scholars of modern thought in philosophy, politics, history, and economics.