British philosopher, Mary Midgley, who has died aged 99, published the first of her nineteen books on philosophy at the age of 59. She was a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Newcastle University and was known for her work on science, ethics and animal rights. Her last book What is Philosophy For? was published just a few days before her final birthday.
Mary became known as a strong voice for respecting animals, as demonstrated in her book Animals and Why They Matter (1983). A passionate supporter of Compassion in World Farming, Mary said that of all the animal welfare issues, “the most important thing is factory farming, we give these creatures no life at all”.
Other philosophers wanted to distance humanity from our animal relatives, but Mary preferred to focus on the similarities. Although she did not believe in God, she felt that there were limits to what science could tell us, and that religious and poetic insights were an essential part of what makes us truly human. Mary will be greatly missed.