Val Plumwood

The feminist philosophy community is mourning the loss of Val Plumwood. I wish I’d known her. The Canberra Times reports,

A renowned ecofeminist who survived a harrowing crocodile attack in the mid-1980s has been found dead at her property near Braidwood, possibly falling victim to a snake bite.

Val Plumwood’s body was found on Saturday afternoon at her home.

Police have said there are no suspicious circumstances.

An autopsy will be carried out to determine the exact cause of death but it is thought she died as a result of heart failure, possibly arising from an insect or snake bite.”

And on the FEAST list, Joan Callahan wrote,

I’d like to add my own deep sense of loss to the news of Val Plumwood’s death. In addition to being the singular scholar Chaone notes, she was an extremely interested and interesting person. She happened to stay at my farm one time, and I found her in the early morning out playing her tin whistle for the horses. They were mesmerized, as was I. She said that she lived in the outback with no cats or dogs, because they were predators and she wanted the ordinary animals of that place to stay living there. If, as the story has it, she was whisked off the planet by a snake, there is every reason to believe she would have considered that fitting.

By Noelle McAfee

I am professor of philosophy at Emory University and editor of the Kettering Review. My latest book, Fear of Breakdown: Politics and Psychoanalysis, explores what is behind the upsurge of virulent nationalism and intransigent politics across the world today. My other writings include Democracy and the Political Unconscious; Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship; Julia Kristeva; and numerous articles and book chapters. Edited volumes include Standing with the Public: the Humanities and Democratic Practice and a special issue of the philosophy journal Hypatia on feminist engagements in democratic theory. I am also the author of the entry on feminist political philosophy in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and well into my next book project on democratic public life.


  1. Val died of natural causes.

    No snake or spider was involved. The croc had not come back from Kakadu to finish the argument.

    She is mourned by a great many friends and colleagues as well as the ecology movement.

    In fact, long time friend Sean Kenan says that she mistrusted people with a dislike of reptiles.

    Val knew and cared for the animals in her bush property. She lived simply and was not afraid of the snakes which she released from nets used to protect young trees.

    The heritage values of her property are to be celebrated. There is old forest and one of the best collections of Waratahs known.

  2. Val’s international contribution to philosphy will be the subject of an obituary in the Guardian Weekly prepared by her colleague and friend Freya Mathews.

    Her ecology informed her philosophy. For her there was no separation between works and faith.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: