Yes, terminal patients still have moral obligations

by Daniel Tippens [This is the first of two essays, by Dan Tippens and Dan Kaufman, about the concept of moral obligations. Kaufman’s response to Tippens will appear later this week.] When I was eighteen, my father was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and given a year and a half to live. This prognosis was … Continue reading Yes, terminal patients still have moral obligations

Sam Harris and the Demarcation Problem

by Paul So Sam Harris is known for many things, from being one of the leading figures of the New Atheist movement to a controversial critic of Islam. he is also known for arguing that science can provide answers to questions regarding morality [1]. For him, morality is within the domain of science. How is … Continue reading Sam Harris and the Demarcation Problem

Heritability: a handy guide to what it means, what it doesn’t mean, and that giant meta-analysis of twin studies

by Jonathan M. Kaplan Recently, Nature Genetics published a paper by Polderman et al. entitled “Meta-analysis of the heritability of human traits based on fifty years of twin studies,” [1]. It has already garnered a lot of attention: blog posts and various news sites are trumpeting its conclusions, and putting their own spins on the … Continue reading Heritability: a handy guide to what it means, what it doesn’t mean, and that giant meta-analysis of twin studies

The false dichotomy of trigger warnings

by Massimo Pigliucci There has been lots of talk about so-called “trigger warnings” lately. Although they originated outside the university (largely on feminist message boards in the ‘90s, and then in the blogosphere [1]), within the academy this is the idea that professors should issue warnings to their students about potentially disturbing material that they … Continue reading The false dichotomy of trigger warnings

Annus Mirabilis, geology edition

by Donald Prothero Every year of the 20th century included many scientific breakthroughs and achievements, but few years were as important as the year 1915 — one hundred years ago this year. It seems odd that it stands out as such a watershed. World War I had broken out the previous August with the rapid German advance … Continue reading Annus Mirabilis, geology edition

Ned Block on phenomenal consciousness, part II

by Dan Tippens Our Assistant Editor, Daniel Tippens, asks Professor Ned Block, of New York University, about his work on the relationship between phenomenal consciousness and access consciousness. This is part II of that interview, you can find Part I here. SciSal: Something I remember I was thinking about a lot is some of the … Continue reading Ned Block on phenomenal consciousness, part II

Ned Block on phenomenal consciousness, part I

by Dan Tippens Our Assistant Editor, Daniel Tippens, asks Professor Ned Block, of New York University, about his work on the relationship between phenomenal consciousness and access consciousness. This is part I of that interview, we will publish part II later this week. SciSal: I first wanted to start with an introduction to the concept … Continue reading Ned Block on phenomenal consciousness, part I

Freedom regained

by Julian Baggini [This is an edited extract from Freedom Regained: The Possibility of Free Will, University of Chicago Press. Not to be reproduced without permission of the publisher.] We’ve heard a lot in recent years about how scientists — neuroscientists in particular — have “discovered” that actions in the body and thoughts in the … Continue reading Freedom regained

Reflections on the skeptic and atheist movements

by Massimo Pigliucci Groucho Marx, one of my favorite comedians of all time, famously wrote a telegram to a Hollywood club he had joined, that said: “Please accept my resignation. I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.” [1] I have recently considered sending such a letter to … Continue reading Reflections on the skeptic and atheist movements

Structural realism and the nature of structure

by Scientia Salon Our new pick for a "notable" paper is Jonas R. Becker Arenhart and Otavio Bueno's "Structural realism and the nature of structure," published in the European Journal for Philosophy of Science, 5:111-139, 2015. (Full text here, free.) Here is the abstract: Ontic Structural Realism is a version of realism about science according to which by positing … Continue reading Structural realism and the nature of structure