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.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Michael’s Picks

by Michael De Dora
* An Illinois circuit judge has ruled that pharmacists with religious objections to the “morning-after” pill cannot be compelled to sell the product. 
* Here’s video from my recent public dialogue with Father Jonathan Morris on secular and religious morality.
* The New York Times discusses why none of the high-profile participants in the financial crash have faced legal punishment. 
* A new study in Nature casts doubt on the idea that human languages share universal features that are dictated by human brain structure.
* A long lost letter written by one of Abraham Lincoln’s best friends, William Herndon, sheds some light on the former president’s position on religion.
* Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) says God told her to introduce a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage. 
* Andrew Revkin on when rationalization masquerades as reason. 
* An agnostic woman details her trouble finding love in the Bible Belt (Nashville, Tennessee). 
* Unrelated to speaking rationally, but very cool: 100 incredible views out airplane windows.


  1. It's sad the attorney general's office feels it necessary to erode religious freedom and bully businesses.

    The only ethical exception to the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act would seem to be proximity to a given customer and emergencies.

  2. Isn't that the definition of rationalization, that for one persuasive purpose or another, it's a masquerade for reason?

  3. One further question re the Nature article and I'll be done.

    The paper asserts instead [of brain structure evolution} that "cultural evolution is the primary factor that determines linguistic structure, with the current state of a linguistic system shaping and constraining future states".

    So is this wnat's been referred to somewhat recently as the instructive theory of adaptation as opposed or adjunct to the selective theory?

  4. The new study in Nature does nothing of the sort:


  5. > "Here’s video from my recent public dialogue with Father Jonathan Morris on secular and religious morality."

    Evolution, The Laws of Physics, Nature, God, Allah; I fail to see how our specific name for "The Creator" has any bearing on our capacity for moral behavior.

    I haven't had time to watch the video in its entirety; I plan on watching it this weekend. What I have seen so far has interested me.

  6. @Michael De Dora

    Critique of “public dialogue with Father Jonathan Morris on secular and religious morality”

    I found this presentation to be persuasive. During the introductory statements behind the podium, [to me] you seemed taller than him. Also your microphone sounded a little clearer and louder than that of the priest’s. The seating arrangement caused me to favor you during the pursuant discussion. Having you in the middle chair, directly under the light, kept my focus centered more on you than him, even when he was talking. Also as a consequence of the stage lighting, I figuratively perceived him to be in the dark and you to be in the light. The interviewer was sitting on the opposite side of the priest and probably further served to draw my attention away from him by the natural effect an attractive woman displaying favorable legs has on a man’s cognitive subconscious. Also, the camera appeared to be positioned directly in front of your chair. It panned from side to side and at times had the effect of making you seem larger. Because of this, I figuratively perceived you to be more substantial than Father Jonathan. I feel that, regardless of the substantive content, all these presentational elements come together in such a way that will accomplish the end of shifting the observer’s subjective point of view not only toward accepting the concept of atheistic morality but also to a greater extent toward accepting the concept of atheism in general.


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