The Extreme Warrior gene: a reality check

by Alondra Oubré MAOA — Genetic culprit for violence? Theories about inborn race-based aggression, violence, and criminality are back in the news [1]. In the ongoing search for genes underlying social behavior, none has sparked more curiosity, if not controversy, than the gene that codes for monoamine oxidase A — MAOA [2, 3, 4]. Nicknamed … Continue reading The Extreme Warrior gene: a reality check

Stifling discourse, on your Left

by Massimo Pigliucci I may be in danger of becoming a libertarian. No, not the Rand Paul or even Pen Jillette type (or, worse, a Randian objectivist!). I’m talking of a version of libertarianism closer to the one famously espoused by John Stuart Mill. Mill put forth the idea that there should be little or … Continue reading Stifling discourse, on your Left

Clarifying Sam Harris’ clarifications

by Dwayne Holmes [Editor’s note: this essay is an expansion and follow up to the author’s submission to the contest organized by Sam Harris for the best criticism of his arguments on science and ethics, as laid out in The Moral Landscape.] The semantics of “science” is important In responding to Ryan Born’s essay [1] … Continue reading Clarifying Sam Harris’ clarifications

Is quantum mechanics relevant to the philosophy of mind (and the other way around)?

by Quentin Ruyant There have been speculations on a possible link between quantum mechanics and the mind almost since the early elaboration of quantum theory (including by well known physicists, such as Wigner, Bohr and Pauli). Yet despite a few proposals (e.g. from Stapp, Penrose, Eccles [1]) what we could dub “quantum mind hypothesis” are … Continue reading Is quantum mechanics relevant to the philosophy of mind (and the other way around)?

Is there (still) a continental-analytic divide in philosophy?

by Massimo Pigliucci As is well known (to philosophers), perhaps one of the most controversial, often even acrimonious [1], splits in modern philosophy is the one between the so-called “analytic” and “continental” approaches. To simplify quite a bit, the split has become apparent during the 20th century, though it can be traced back to the … Continue reading Is there (still) a continental-analytic divide in philosophy?

The natural, the supernatural, and the nature of science

by Paul Braterman Science, it is often said, is restricted in principle to the search for natural causes and the rejection of the supernatural; call this intrinsic methodological naturalism (IMN). Here, following the work of Boudry et al. [1], I argue that this view is misguided and damaging. We have not precluded supernatural claims from … Continue reading The natural, the supernatural, and the nature of science

String theory and post-empiricism

by Peter Woit Last month’s conference in Princeton included two remarkable talks by prominent physicists, both of whom invoked philosophy in a manner unprecedented for this kind of scientific gathering. On the first day, Paul Steinhardt attacked the current practice of inflationary cosmology as able to accommodate any experimental result, so, on philosophical grounds, no … Continue reading String theory and post-empiricism

The Art of Darkness

by Maarten Boudry In some circles, the writings of Jacques Lacan are revered as a source of deep insight into the human psyche and the nature of language and reality. In saner quarters, however, the French psychiatrist is denounced as an intellectual charlatan: a purveyor of obscure and impenetrable nonsense. Lacan was one of the prime … Continue reading The Art of Darkness