Catharine Trotter Cockburn
Philosophical Writings
  • Publication Date: June 20, 2006
  • ISBN: 9781551113029 / 1551113023
  • 270 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Broadview eBooks are available on a variety of platforms. To learn more, please visit our eBook information page.

Note on pricing.

Request Exam Copy

Examination copy policy

Availability: Worldwide

Catharine Trotter Cockburn

Philosophical Writings

  • Publication Date: June 20, 2006
  • ISBN: 9781551113029 / 1551113023
  • 270 pages; 5½" x 8½"

An important thinker who contributed to eighteenth-century debates in epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics, Catharine Trotter Cockburn pursued the life of a dramatist and essayist, despite the prevailing social, cultural, and moral prescriptions of her day. Cockburn’s philosophical writings were polemical pieces in defence of such philosophers as John Locke and Samuel Clarke, in which she grappled with the moral and theological questions that concerned them and produced her own unique answers to those questions. Her works are interesting both for their approach to philosophical issues that continue to be debated today and for the way that they inform our understanding of the early-modern period.


“Catharine Trotter Cockburn was one of the earliest defenders of John Locke’s ‘Essay Concerning Human Understanding.’ In a time when Locke was seen as a dangerous innovator, Cockburn’s ‘Defence’ was remarkable not only for the fact that it was written by a young woman of 22, but also for its confidence, clarity, and precision. Patricia Sheridan’s elegant edition of Cockburn’s philosophical works will enable modern readers to appreciate Cockburn’s arguments in the context of the natural law tradition in early modern philosophy. Sheridan also provides a clear and intelligent appraisal of Cockburn as an independent thinker and not simply the unquestioning disciple of the male philosophers she defended.” — Jacqueline Broad, Monash University, Australia

“The Philosophical Writings of Catharine Trotter Cockburn will be welcomed by scholar and student alike. It is a collection that will take its place besides others in our rediscovery of women who were philosophically productive in past centuries, and ignored until recently. Those women philosophers of the past deserve the study and evaluation possible only through modern editions such as this.” — Sue Weinberg, Hunter College, CUNY

Catharine Trotter Cockburn: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

A Defence of Mr. Locke’s Essay of Human Understanding, wherein its Principles, with reference to
Morality, Revealed Religion, and the Immortality of the Soul, are considered and justified: In answer to some Remarks on
that Essay

Remarks upon some Writers in the Controversy concerning the Foundation of Moral Virtue and Moral Obligation;
particularly the Translator of Archbishop King’s
Origin of Evil, and the author of the Divine
Legation of Moses (1743)

Remarks upon the Principles and Reasonings of Dr. Rutherforth’s Essay on the Nature and Obligations of
Virtue: In vindication of the contrary principles and reasonings, enforced in the writings of the late Dr. Samuel

Appendix: Selections from Cockburn’s Correspondence

Select Bibliography


Patricia Sheridan is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Guelph. She has written previously on Catharine Trotter Cockburn in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2003), and on Anne Conway for the Dictionary of Literary Biography (2002).