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.
Sunday, February 05, 2012
* Many religions require adherents to donate a fixed portion of their yearly income, usually ~10 percent, to their religious organization. Yet one need not believe in the supernatural to help others, so why don’t we all try to give 10 percent? That’s the idea behind a new British campaign called Giving What We Can.
* The European Union (EU) might soon consider tougher measures on banker bonuses that go against “all reason, common sense and morality,” according to EU financial services commissioner Michel Barnier.
* Good news: Harvard University political philosopher Michael Sandel is back! Sandel has authored several of my favorite books, including Public Philosophy: Essays on Morality in Politics, and most recently, Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? His new book, coming out this spring, is titled What Money Can’t Buy: the Moral Limits of Markets.
* There are many instances of the government improperly exerting its control over individual choice, but perhaps the most glaring is its making marijuana illegal. That’s the topic of a new article by Jonathan Miller, who writes that there is a compelling scientific, economic, and moral case for the legalization of marijuana.
* Here’s an intriguing thought experiment from Richard Dawkins: “suppose every trial had two juries, sitting in the same courtroom but forbidden to talk to each other.”
* Are babies amoral animals who depend on parents, friends, and society to learn how to be moral agents? Not according to modern science, says Yale University psychologist Paul Bloom. For a look at Bloom’s thoughts, check out this essay in the New York Times.
* Purdue University philosophy professor Daniel Kelly recently sat down for a brief interview on his forthcoming book Yuck! The Nature and Moral Significance of Disgust. I’d not previously heard of Kelly’s work, but it looks interesting. Take a look.
* Should the Thirteenth Amendment, which outlaws slavery and involuntary servitude, apply to non-human animals? That’s the question raised by a new lawsuit filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Many have dismissed this case as frivolous, but James McWilliams warns that it raises important questions, and has wide ranging implications — including the potential end of factory farming.