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.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

2010: The best of Rationally Speaking

by Massimo Pigliucci
Everyone seems to be doing a “best of” at the end of every year, and we’ve never participated in that tradition. But then I thought, why not? The nature of blogs is such that even very good posts become old news after a week, and yet there is quite a bit of good writing and stimulation for further thought on this site, if I may say so myself. So, here are the thirteen (one per month, plus a bonus) best entries for 2010 on Rationally Speaking, in straightforward order of appearance. I hope you enjoy... again.
* January: Hume’s guillotine, where Julia expresses some skepticism on the possibility of moral reasoning.
* February: How to want to change your mind, Julia on not wanting to be wrong, and what we can do about it.
* March: “Anything is possible.” No, not really, on the differences among logical, physical and contingent possibilities.
* April: On so-called “sin laws”, where the title says it all — courtesy of Michael.
* May: Why do libertarians deny climate change?, where it turns out that even Penn and Teller aren’t perfect critical thinkers.
* June: Performance art without the performance, or the art, where I ask the question of whether a woman sitting on a chair becomes art, just because the chair is in a museum and the woman says it’s art.
* July: Mr. Potato Head and philosophy, where Julia keeps being skeptical of philosophy, but increasingly intrigued by it.
* August: Between Spock and McCoy (via Aristotle), on the virtue ethicist’s middle way between reason and emotions.
* September: Turkey’s choice: an Islamic Trojan horse?, where Tunç muses on the results of the recent election in that so far unique place in the world: a (functional?) Islamic democracy.
* October: The limits of reasonable discourse, because even reason is limited, and it’s reasonable to take note of it.
* November: On Utilitarianism and Consequentialism, where Michael explores the nuances of the ethical philosophy started by Bentham and Mill.
* December: Some animals are more equal than others, where Julia presents her unique twist on the famous observation by George Orwell.
* Bonus entry: The 2010 post with the highest number of comments (275!) was Jerry Coyne, then and now, in which I show that Jerry changed his mind dramatically about the relationship between science and the supernatural (going in the wrong direction). Note, of course, that I have apologized to Jerry for the tone of some of my remarks this year (we both have been naughty to each other), but that we still disagree on the substance of this issue.


  1. Dr. Pigliucci,

    I have a sort-of biographical question for you. I didn't think it appropriate to post it on any of the latest articles - as it would have nothing to do with any of those topics - so I'll put it to you here because 1) there are no other comments, and 2) this article is sort of a celebration of the blog, so what could be wrong with inquiring about the blog's author?

    Anyway, by your name one can deduce (or is it induce? :p) that you're of Italian descent/nationality, but from listening to the podcast, it sounds - to my untrained American ears - as though you speak with a French accent (obviously, I need to travel more). Is the accent different from what I would recognize in the particular part of Italy you hail from?

  2. Michael, I'm Italian, grew up in Rome and moved to the States 20 years ago. My accent is definitely Italian, though of course all romance languages may sound somewhat similar to an English speaker. And no, the question was not inappropriate.

  3. Okay. I figured that the cause for confusion was entirely my own, due to my very parochial (i.e., typically American) understanding of non-English languages. In any case, it's a very fine voice with an excellent command of English, bested only by your deftness in written English. Thanks again for the blog, the podcast and the books!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.