About Rationally Speaking
Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.
conceptual history of Philosophy. Does philosophy make progress? Of course, but it does so differently from, say, science. Here is a brief conceptual history of how philosophy evolved over time, from the all-purpose approach of the ancient Greeks to the highly specialized academic discipline it is today.
Gods & morality. Does morality depend on the existence of gods? Not at all, as we will see in this video explaining the famous Euthyphro dilemma, an analysis of the relationship between divinity and morality proposed by Plato 25 centuries ago.
Reductionism. A short introduction to the concepts of reductionism and emergence in philosophy and science, with their profound implications for human phenomena such as free will, consciousness, and morality.
How to think like a philosopher. In this video we learn about one of the fundamental tools of philosophical thinking: the method of reflective equilibrium. It was famously used by John Rawls in his highly influential A Theory of Justice, but it can be extremely useful for any other philosophical problem, as well as in everyday life.
On miracles. Our new friendly philosophers, Martha and David, discuss David Hume's famous essay on miracles, which Carl Sagan summed up with the idea that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
What about metaphysics? Hypatia and Simplicio discuss the basics of metaphysics: what is it about? And what is the input of science on metaphysical questions? Is a theory in philosophy something different from a theory in science?
Does philosophy make progress? Our two philosophically minded robots discuss whether philosophy can make progress, and if it does so in a way similar to science.
Can science answer moral question? Hypatia and Simplicio talk about Sam Harris' contention that science, and in particular neurobiology, can answer moral questions. They agree that it cannot.
Philosophy of Science-II. The second part of a 5-minute (well, I guess overall a 10-minute) discussion of philosophy of science.
Philosophy of Science-I. A 5-minute introduction to what philosophy of science is all about.
David Hume, the jovial skeptic. A 5-minute introduction to one of the most influential philosophers of all time. Much food for thought about morality, the nature of science, and the silliness of religion.
Neuroethics & the Trolley Dilemma. A 5-minute introduction to an intriguing moral problem and what it tells us about how we decide what is right and what is wrong.
What is Philosophy? A 5-minute introduction to what philosophy is all about, how it is different from science, religion and mysticism, and why it matters to all of us.