The nine kinds of ethical life

by Massimo Pigliucci Ethics, nowadays, is about the (moral) principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of a certain activity. For instance, I can ask myself whether I should adopt the moral principles of vegetarianism and abstain from eating meat and other animal products. Or we could have a discussion about medical ethics,Continue reading “The nine kinds of ethical life”

Alas, Alcibiades, what condition you suffer from!

by Massimo Pigliucci [If you like this excerpt, please consider getting and reviewing The Quest for Character.] The year is 430 BCE. The place, Athens. The time, shortly after the beginning of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta, which—twenty-six years later—will end in Athens’s defeat and a general weakening of the Greek city-states, so muchContinue reading “Alas, Alcibiades, what condition you suffer from!”

Is it true that you can’t derive an ought from an is?

by Massimo Pigliucci Here is one of the most momentous short paragraphs ever written in the history of philosophy: In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remarked, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary way of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God, orContinue reading “Is it true that you can’t derive an ought from an is?”

On the steps of Marcus Aurelius: visiting Carnuntum

by Massimo Pigliucci Some people go to Mecca. Others to see the Pope in St. Peter’s Square. I go to sites that are connected to ancient Greco-Roman history, especially to philosophers, and more often than not in particular to Stoicism. I call these episodes my “secular pilgrimages,” as they serve a function similar to what—IContinue reading “On the steps of Marcus Aurelius: visiting Carnuntum”

Plato’s mistake

by Massimo Pigliucci What is your take on metaphysics? Mine is not particularly positive. At least, I am deeply suspicious, and largely reject, the whole approach to the field known as “analytic” metaphysics, which has been dominant since the beginning of the 20th century. (I am increasingly skeptical of the value of all analytic philosophy, butContinue reading “Plato’s mistake”

Figs in winter and the idea of an art of living

by Massimo Pigliucci So if you long for your son or your friend at a time when they aren’t given to you, you’re longing for a fig in winter, believe me. (Epictetus, Discourses, III.24.87) Figs are one of my favorite fruits. The common edible fig’s scientific name is Ficus carica, a plant native of the MediterraneanContinue reading “Figs in winter and the idea of an art of living”

What does it mean to ‘interpret’ Quantum Mechanics?

by Massimo Pigliucci When I wear my hat as a philosopher of science (partially distinct from my other hat as an evolutionary biologist), I eventually run into a scientist (I could name names, but I won’t) who smugly tells me that philosophy obviously doesn’t make progress. The evidence? Philosophers disagree on all sorts of thingsContinue reading “What does it mean to ‘interpret’ Quantum Mechanics?”