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.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Michael’s Picks

by Michael De Dora

* Many people ethically equate deliberately causing harm with failing to prevent it. Why? According to new research, it might depend of the degree to which a person engages in conscious reasoning.

* A district judge recently ruled that a fetal personhood ballot measure in Nevada provides “inadequate” information on its potential effects, and must be rewritten before sponsors attempt to collect the signatures needed to get on next year’s ballot.

* Most women who have second-trimester abortions are not “willfully irresponsible,” but instead face challenges that make it tougher to secure an earlier abortion, according to a new study. You can read more about this study on Salon.

* The European Court of Justice recently banned the patenting of inventions involving human embryonic stem cells and characterized research and other procedures using new or previously derived cells as “immoral.” Now, the prominent Alliance of German Scientific Organizations has publicly slammed the court for stepping beyond its bounds.

* Are those who are overweight in that situation because they lack the willpower necessary to keep in shape? Absolutely not, says Zoe Williams in the Guardian.

* A record 64 percent of Americans consider the honesty and ethical standards of members of Congress “low” or “very low,” according to a new survey from Gallup.

* China is instituting moral instruction for its civil servants, and has categorized the training sessions as “highly important,” according to the Chinese newspaper the People’s Daily.

* An old but good one: Bertrand Russell’s In Praise of Idleness: “I want to say, in all seriousness, that a great deal of harm is being done in the modern world by belief in the virtuousness of work, and that the road to happiness and prosperity lies in an organized diminution of work.”


  1. Zoe Williams in the Guardian on cheap food......didn't George Orwell say all this 50 years ago?

  2. Russell's essay makes a perfect read for a lazy holiday afternoon. Thanks for linking to that.


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