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Neil Tyson And The Value Of Philosophy

Reprinted from Scientia Salon. You can read the original here.It seems like my friend Neil deGrasse...

What Does It Mean For Something To Be Metaphysically Necessary?

I mentioned before, this semester I’m teaching a graduate level seminar on David Hume, and having...

David Hume And The Missing Shade Of Blue

This semester I’m teaching a graduate level course on “Hume Then and Now,” which aims at...

Is Theologian Alving Plantinga For Real? Alas, It Appears So

I keep hearing that Notre Dame philosopher and theologian Alvin Plantinga is a really smart guy...

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Massimo PigliucciRSS Feed of this column.

Massimo Pigliucci is Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York.

His research focuses on the structure of evolutionary theory, the relationship between science and philosophy

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I am about to go to an informal workshop on naturalism and its implications, organized by cosmologist Sean Carroll. The list of participants is impressive, including Pat Churchland, Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett, Rebecca Goldstein, Alex Rosenberg, Don Ross and Steven Weinberg.
I read two interesting commentaries on evolutionary theory recently. One was by philosopher John Dupré, the other by evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne. Actually, the latter was a commentary on the former, and it had a typical Coyne-style title (“Another philosopher proclaims a nonexistent ‘crisis’ in evolutionary biology”). I know both Jerry and John, and I respect them as scholars in their respective fields.
Recently I have been intrigued by James Ladyman and Don Ross’s ideas about naturalistic metaphysics and in the course of my discussion of their book, Every Thing Must Go, I pointed out that those ideas (as the authors themselves recognize) are compatible with one form or another of mathematical Platonism (hear also Ladyman on the RS podcast).
PZ Myers is not exactly known for the timidity of his statements (or for the mildness of his tone when he disagrees with someone, even a fellow atheist). On August 1st he posted a brief statement on his blog, presumably as a commentary on the recent Republican-led charade concerning a proposed ban on all abortions after 20 weeks in Washington, DC . (The ban was voted favorably by a majority in the House, but since Republicans themselves invoked a ⅔ majority rule, it didn’t pass.
I have been an active member of the self-described Community of Reason since about 1997. By that term I mean the broad set encompassing skeptics, atheists and secular humanists (and all the assorted synonyms thereof: freethinkers, rationalists, and even brights). The date is easily explainable: in 1996 I had moved from Brown University — where I did my postdoc — to the University of Tennessee, were I was appointed assistant professor in the Departments of Botany and of Ecology&Evolutionary Biology.
A few days ago I was asked by a Washington Times reporter, Emily Esfahani Smith, to comment on a soon to be published paper concerning the issue of liberal (or, rather, anti-conservative) bias in the academy. I am weary of the Washington Times, a paper that is well known (among liberals) to have a decidedly conservative (or, rather, anti-liberal) bias of its own, but agreed to respond in writing to Emily’s questions. The piece was published a few days later, and I was actually quoted pretty much correctly (even though the piece itself did have the predictable slant, featuring a title that goes far beyond the findings of the paper referred).