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


Michael Shermer and the moral arc of libertarianism

by Massimo Pigliucci Skeptic magazine publisher Michael Shermer has gotten onto the same “science can determine moral values” bandwagon as other scientistically-minded writers such as Sam Harris. But this commentary isn’t directly about Shermer’s latest book [1], and even less about Harris (about whose ideas I’ve written more than enough [2]). Rather, it concerns a … Continue reading Michael Shermer and the moral arc of libertarianism

Cold, objective science? Think twice

by Enrico Uva In trying to make sense of science-related issues — say, global warming, or vaccines and autism —we are often hampered by a lack of scientific expertise, and even for those us who have a science degree, our knowledge often doesn’t spread beyond the scope of our specific field. Things get murkier still when individuals and organizations represent science … Continue reading Cold, objective science? Think twice

The Stoic egg

by Massimo Pigliucci The annual Stoic Week is approaching [1], so it seems like a good time to return to my ongoing exploration of Stoicism as a philosophy of life. I have been practicing Stoicism since 4 October 2014 [2], and so far so good. I have been able to be more mindful about what … Continue reading The Stoic egg

Philosophy, science and expertise

by Mark English Let me make a very simple — and, I hope, uncontroversial — point about expertise and authority before looking at some questions pertaining to the current (increasingly bitter) debate about the nature and status of philosophy and its relation to the sciences. Expertise implies epistemic authority: the expert — by definition — … Continue reading Philosophy, science and expertise

Philosophy, my first five years

by Massimo Pigliucci By any standards I can think of, I’ve so far had a very lucky academic career. I started as an evolutionary biologist at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville [1], back in 1995, where they treated me very well for nine years, nurturing me through tenure as well as promotions to associate and … Continue reading Philosophy, my first five years

What is science and why should we care? — Part III

by Alan Sokal In all the examples discussed so far I have been at pains to distinguish clearly between factual matters and ethical or aesthetic matters, because the epistemological issues they raise are so different. And I have restricted my discussion almost entirely to factual matters, simply because of the limitations of my own competence. … Continue reading What is science and why should we care? — Part III

What is science and why should we care? — Part II

by Alan Sokal Let me now pass to a second set of adversaries of the scientific worldview, namely the advocates of pseudoscience. This is of course an enormous area, so let me focus on one socially important aspect of it, namely so-called “complementary and alternative therapies” in health and medicine. And within this, I’d like … Continue reading What is science and why should we care? — Part II

What is science and why should we care? — Part I

by Alan Sokal I propose to share with you a few reflections about the nature of scientific inquiry and its importance for public life. At a superficial level one could say that I will be addressing some aspects of the relation between science and society; but as I hope will become clear, my aim is … Continue reading What is science and why should we care? — Part I