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Margaret MacDonald
British woman philosopher

Margaret MacDonald

Margaret MacDonald
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro British woman philosopher
Was Philosopher
From United Kingdom
Field Philosophy
Gender female
Birth 9 April 1907
Death 7 January 1956 (aged 48 years)
Star sign Aries
The details (from wikipedia)


Margaret MacDonald (9 April 1907 – 7 January 1956) was a British analytic philosopher.

Life and Education

Margaret MacDonald was an abandoned child. She was awarded a first class degree in philosophy from Birkbeck College, London, in 1932, followed by a PhD in 1934. Her supervisor was Susan Stebbing and she provided her with financial assistance during her research. MacDonald joined Girton College, Cambridge, as a Pfeiffer Research Fellow in Moral Sciences between 1934–37. While at Cambridge, she studied under G.E. Moore and was part of the inner circle of students that Ludwig Wittgenstein taught. Along with fellow student Alice Ambrose she secretly (since he did not allow this) made notes during Wittgenstein's lectures, which were later published. They later convinced Wittgenstein to allow them to write his lectures down.


From 1937–41 MacDonald taught philosophy at St Hilda's, Oxford, where she was also librarian. During the war she was temporary principal in the Board of Trade. This was followed by a lectureship at Bedford College, London. At this time, she was one of a very small number of women teaching philosophy outside of Oxford University. From 1947 she was also a lecturer on Ethics to staff at the Home Office. She became reader in philosophy at Bedford College in 1955.

She remained very active in academic philosophy for the rest of her life. Her early articles were criticisms of the work of contemporary philosophers, however she later concentrated on the field of aesthetics. She was also interested in political philosophy and published a significant article 'Natural Rights'. In this paper she argues against the idea that natural rights are founded on the natural law. Her work attracted substantial attention at the time. Two of her articles were reprinted in the Logic and Language (1951) series which included articles that were representative of current philosophical trends.

MacDonald helped to found the philosophy journal Analysis together with Susan Stebbing, C.A. Mace and Gilbert Ryle in 1933. She was also the journal's editor from 1948 until her death in 1956 following heart surgery.


  • Margaret MacDonald (1933). Verification and Understanding. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 34:143 - 156.
  • Margaret Macdonald (1936). Russell and McTaggart. Philosophy 11 (43):322 - 335.
  • Margaret MacDonald, G. Ryle & I. Berlin (1937). "Symposium: Induction and Hypothesis". Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 16:20 - 102.
  • Margaret MacDonald (1937). Reply to Mr. MacIver. Analysis 4 (5):77 - 80.
  • Margaret MacDonald (1937). Further Reply to Mr. MacIver. Analysis 5 (1):12 - 16.
  • Margaret MacDonald (1938). Things and Processes. Analysis 6 (1):1 - 10.
  • Margaret MacDonald (1940). Necessary Propositions. Analysis 7 (2):45 - 51.
  • Margaret MacDonald (1946). Natural Rights. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 47:225 - 250.
  • Margaret Macdonald (1951). The Philosopher's Use of Analogy. In Gilbert Ryle & Antony Flew (eds.), Logic and Language (First Series): Essays. Blackwell.
  • Margaret Macdonald (1951). The Language of Political Theory. In Gilbert Ryle & Antony Flew (eds.), Logic and Language (First Series): Essays. Blackwell.
  • Margaret Macdonald (1951). Professor Ryle on the Concept of Mind. Philosophical Review 60 (January):80-90.
  • Margaret MacDonald (1952). Art and Imagination. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 53:205 - 226.
  • Margaret Macdonald (1953). Sleeping and Waking. Mind 62 (April):202-215.
  • Margaret Macdonald (1953). Linguistic Philosophy and Perception. Philosophy 28 (October):311-324.
  • Margaret Macdonald & M. Scriven (1954). "Symposium: The Language of Fiction." Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 28:165 - 196.
  • Margaret MacDonald (ed.) (1954/1966). Philosophy and Analysis. Oxford, B. Blackwell.

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