Massimo is a Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Massimo pens the “Rationally Speaking” blog and hosts the podcast by the same name. He has published 9 books, including Denying Evolution: Creationism, Scientism and the Nature of Science (Sinauer), Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk (University of Chicago Press), and Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to A More Meaningful Life (Basic Books).
Want to tackle life's big questions? Why not approach them like a philosopher? Philosophy Professor Massimo Pigliucci introduces you to the idea of reflective equilibrium, the constant re-evaluation and consideration of one's moral beliefs. Learn about philosophers like Nelson Goodman and John Rawls, and hear about reflective equilibrium's applications to scientific experiments. For example, how do you account for scenarios in which you face discrepancies between theory and data?
What is science and how does it work? And no, we aren’t talking about that class you had to take after math and before gym. In this lesson from Plato Footnote, learn about this method of discovering and understanding the natural world. Learn about the process of justification (that is, how scientists prove new ideas), Karl Popper’s important thoughts on inductive reasoning, and what all of this has to do with Newton’s laws of motion and Einstein’s theory of relativity.
Life's full of big philosophical questions: What is beauty? What is reality? And what exactly is Philosophy? This lesson from Professor Massimo Pigliucci teaches the history, types, and applications of philosophy. Learn about the origins of philosophy in Ancient Greece and explore the six main branches of philosophy: metaphysics, logic, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics. Also... hear why Philosophy students may not be as unemployable as they seem.
How do you determine right from wrong when human lives are on the line? Follow along with Professor Massimo Pigliucci as he considers the philosophical and neurobiological answers to this question. This lesson offers a review of Aristotle's virtue ethics, Kant's deontology, and Bentham and Mill's utilitarianism, and then analyzes the classic philosophical thought experiment, the Trolley Dilemma. Learn how different parts of the brain are used for making rational versus emotional moral judgments.
Does the name David Hume ring a bell? This famous philosopher was born in 1711, and was one of the foremost empiricist philosophers of his time. Hume made major contributions to science and philosophy that are still relevant today! Take a few minutes to learn about Hume, including his thoughts on reason and miracles, and contributions to epistemology, ethics, and morality. Learn how Hume's insights on inductive reasoning from nearly 300 year ago influence the scientific community today.
A recent book written by Sam Harris called The Moral Landscape argues that science can answer moral questions, and has caused quite a bit of discussion on the matter. Enter into this dialogue, and discover what both sides of the debate have to say. In this lesson from Plato Footnote, learn what makes a fact, fact, and what contributions science can make in the field of ethics (for example). Finally, this lesson concludes with a short exploration of moral relativism, Plato, and the divine.
What is metaphysics, and what do metaphysicians discuss? How does metaphysics overlap with science? Plato Footnote introduces you to two robots having just this conversation. Join in for the chance to learn about issues of existence and realism, with a focus on questions of time, causation, and general relativity. Note: This lesson is crucial before to watch before attempting any time travel, as it explains causal loops.
How did philosophy evolve into what we know today? Professor Massimo Pigliucci gives you a guided tour (complete with map) of the history and development of the various branches of philosophy. Hear about philosophy's major players, and how philosophy has interacted with and incorporated modern science. Learn about logic, metaphysics, natural philosophy, and the philosophy of science.
Do we have free will, or do we just boil down to particles following the laws of physics? Professor Massimo Pigliucci from Plato Footnote leads us into a world where science and philosophy collide by discussing the concept of reductionism. This lesson also includes an explanation of the diference between ontological and epistemological reductionism, and how these debates come to bear on ideas of emergent properties, morality, and free will.
Is there a universal morality? And if so, is it determined by a higher god or gods? Professor Massimmo Pigliucci of Plato Footnote gives you Plato's perspective by introducing you to the story of Eythyphro's dilemma. Do the gods determine what is good? Or do they simply recognize goodness? This moral question first was posed thousands of years ago, but debate still rages today.
You may have called it a miracle when your best friend who’d previously flunked every algebra test received an “A” on the final, but according to philosopher David Hume, what you actually witnessed was an “unusual occurrence.” In this lesson from Plato Footnote, learn what distinguishes an “unusual occurrence” from a miracle, what qualifies as a miracle, and what accounts for the lack of miracles in our modern times. Finally, discover Hume’s opinion on both ancient and modern religions.
Science clearly progresses. All the time, new discoveries are made, advancements in medicine are discovered, and theories are refined. But what does philosophy achieve? When asked about philosophers do you think of wise long-bearded men who sit and talk in circles, never reaching any conclusions or useful agreements? While philosophy may not answer the same questions that science does, it doesn’t aim to. So learn what philosophy has to offer, and what progress in the field actually achieves.