About Rationally Speaking

Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Passion of the Penguins, an update

The movie "The March of the Penguin" is about to debut at the Times film festival in London, and the British newspaper published an article that includes a response by the director, Luc Jacquet, to the silly American right-wing religious commentaries that argued that the movie was a perfect example of "family values" (thus committing what in philosophy is known as the naturalistic fallacy of deriving ethical judgments from facts about nature).

Jacquet said to the Times, “If you want an example of monogamy, penguins are not a good choice, the divorce rate in emperor penguins is 80 to 90 per cent each year. After they see the chick is OK, most of them divorce. They change every year.” He went on to add “For me there is no doubt about evolution. I am a scientist. The intelligent design theory is a step back to the thinking of 300 years ago. My film is not supposed to be interpreted in this way.”

Thank you, Luc!


  1. "(thus committing what in philosophy is known as the naturalistic fallacy of deriving ethical judgments from facts about nature)"

    Then the opposite sort of inference, when one derives [un]ethical judgments from facts about nature must be a fallacy too.

    For some reason, it just wouldn't be logical for that to only work one way.

    Not that I care about movies, I really don't. But being .5 French, I can say with total confidence, that the French (culturally) are rather idiotic on issues related to their feelings QUITE OFTEN.


  2. Good thing he didn't make a movie about phalaropes, huh? These birds lay a rather large egg, which the male incubates, then the female goes off and finds another male.

  3. That's a good one, John. :-)

    Another interesting selective perception on the part of the conservatives was to say (I don't remember who was the guy, but he was pretty excited) that the movie was a strong argument for a designer. Did the guy really watch the movie? Did he pay any attention? I mean, if THAT system of reproduction was designed, it was clearly not any kind of intelligent designer for sure...

    And they also forget to mention the frustrated female who wants to kidnap some other chick when hers dies. What's that supposed to mean in the conservatives' interpretations?

    Oh, well. It's just a (beautifully made) nature documentary about a funny bird.



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