Massimo Pigliucci City University of New York
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  • Faculty, City University of New York
  • PhD, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 2003.

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About me
I am a former evolutionary biologist who has switched to philosophy of science. My interests are in the philosophy of biology (naturally), the relationships between science and philosophy and between science and religion, and the philosophy of pseudoscience. I am the editor of Philosophy & Theory in Biology (http://philosophyandtheoryinbiology.org). I teach at the City College of New York and at CUNY's Graduate Center.
My works
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  1. Maarten Boudry, Stefaan Blancke & Massimo Pigliucci (forthcoming). What Makes Weird Beliefs Thrive? The Epidemiology of Pseudoscience. Philosophical Psychology:1-22.
    What makes beliefs thrive? In this paper, we model the dissemination of bona fide science versus pseudoscience, making use of Dan Sperber's epidemiological model of representations. Drawing on cognitive research on the roots of irrational beliefs and the institutional arrangement of science, we explain the dissemination of beliefs in terms of their salience to human cognition and their ability to adapt to specific cultural ecologies. By contrasting the cultural development of science and pseudoscience along a number of dimensions , we (...)
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  2. Raphael Scholl & Massimo Pigliucci (forthcoming). The Proximate–Ultimate Distinction and Evolutionary Developmental Biology: Causal Irrelevance Versus Explanatory Abstraction. Biology and Philosophy:1-18.
    Mayr’s proximate–ultimate distinction has received renewed interest in recent years. Here we discuss its role in arguments about the relevance of developmental to evolutionary biology. We show that two recent critiques of the proximate–ultimate distinction fail to explain why developmental processes in particular should be of interest to evolutionary biologists. We trace these failures to a common problem: both critiques take the proximate–ultimate distinction to neglect specific causal interactions in nature. We argue that this is implausible, and that the distinction (...)
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  3. Massimo Pigliucci (2014). A Muddled Defense of New Atheism: On Stenger's Response. Science, Religion and Culture 1 (1):10-14.
    Victor Stenger (this issue) has responded to my recent criticism of the so-called New Athe- ism movement (2013). Here I endeavor to counter Stenger’s note and highlight several of the ways in which it goes astray. To begin with, however, let me summarize the main points of my earlier paper.
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  4. Massimo Pigliucci (2014). Are There ‘Other’ Ways of Knowing? Philosophy Now (102).
    I recently participated in a conversation at Ghent University with Dan Dennett and physicist Lawrence Krauss on the limits of science (available on YouTube at tinyurl.com/DKP-Ghent). At one point, perhaps predictably, the issue of other ways of knowing – besides the scientific one – came up. All three of us, despite the otherwise significant differences we had about science and its relationship with philosophy, quickly dismissed the notion as nonsense.
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  5. Massimo Pigliucci (2014). Mind Uploading: A Philosophical Counter-Analysis. In Russell Blackford & Damien Broderick (eds.), Intelligence Unbound: The Future of Uploaded and Machine Minds. Wiley. 119-130.
    A counter analysis of David Chalmers' claims about the possibility of mind uploading within the context of the (alleged) Singularity event.
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  6. Massimo Pigliucci (2014). Philosophy and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Philosophy Now (104):online.
    Years ago I was set to spend a full weekend in my apartment, as it was forecast to snow outside. I decided that I needed some good reading to keep me company. I had heard of something called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979), which was supposed to be clever and funny. It was, and I’ve never traveled without a towel since. ...
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  7. Massimo Pigliucci (2014). 5 Questions on Science & Religion. In Gregg D. Caruso (ed.), 5 Questions on Science & Religion. Automatic Press. 163-170.
    Are science and religion compatible when it comes to understanding cosmology (the origin of the universe), biology (the origin of life and of the human species), ethics, and the human mind (minds, brains, souls, and free will)? Do science and religion occupy non-overlapping magisteria? Is Intelligent Design a scientific theory? How do the various faith traditions view the relationship between science and religion? What, if any, are the limits of scientific explanation? What are the most important open questions, problems, or (...)
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  8. Massimo Pigliucci & Leonard Finkelman (2014). The Extended (Evolutionary) Synthesis Debate: Where Science Meets Philosophy. BioScience:online.
    Recent debates between proponents of the modern evolutionary synthesis (the standard model in evolutionary biology) and those of a possible extended synthesis are a good example of the fascinating tangle among empirical, theoretical, and conceptual or philosophical matters that is the practice of evolutionary biology. In this essay, we briefly discuss two case studies from this debate, highlighting the relevance of philosophical thinking to evolutionary biologists in the hope of spurring further constructive cross-pollination between the two fields.
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  9. Massimo Pigliucci & Leonard Finkelman (2014). The Value of Public Philosophy to Philosophers. Essays in Philosophy 15 (1):86-102.
    Philosophy has been a public endeavor since its origins in ancient Greece, India, and China. However, recent years have seen the development of a new type of public philosophy conducted by both academics and non- professionals. The new public philosophy manifests itself in a range of modalities, from the publication of magazines and books for the general public to a variety of initiatives that exploit the power and flexibility of social networks and new media. In this paper we examine the (...)
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  10. Guido Barbujani & Massimo Pigliucci (2013). Human Races. Current Biology 23:185-187.
    What is a race? Ernst Mayr (1904–2005) distinguishes between species in which biological change is continuous in space, and species in which groups of populations with different character combinations are separated by borders. In the latter species, the entities separated by borders are geographic races or subspecies. Many anthropology textbooks describe human races as discrete (or nearly discrete) clusters of individuals, geographically localized, each of which shares a set of ancestors, and hence can be distinguished from other races by their (...)
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  11. Maarten Boudry & Massimo Pigliucci (2013). The Mismeasure of Machine: Synthetic Biology and the Trouble with Engineering Metaphors. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (4):660-668.
    The scientific study of living organisms is permeated by machine and design metaphors. Genes are thought of as the ‘‘blueprint’’ of an organism, organisms are ‘‘reverse engineered’’ to discover their func- tionality, and living cells are compared to biochemical factories, complete with assembly lines, transport systems, messenger circuits, etc. Although the notion of design is indispensable to think about adapta- tions, and engineering analogies have considerable heuristic value (e.g., optimality assumptions), we argue they are limited in several important respects. In (...)
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  12. Massimo Pigliucci (2013). A Post-Democratic Future? The Philosophers' Magazine 61 (12 June):16-18.
    As short a time ago as 1992, political scientist Francis Fukuyama was optimistically (and wrongly, as it turned out) predicting “the end of history”, a stable future where liberal democracies would be the norm throughout the world, leading to lasting peace and economic prosperity. A few years later we have Eric Li, who equally gingerly predicts (for example in the pages of Foreign Affairs magazine) a “post-democratic” future, beginning with the success of China. Oh boy.
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  13. Massimo Pigliucci (2013). Between Holism and Reductionism: A Philosophical Primer on Emergence. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.
    Ever since Darwin a great deal of the conceptual history of biology may be read as a struggle between two philosophical positions: reductionism and holism. On the one hand, we have the reductionist claim that evolution has to be understood in terms of changes at the fundamental causal level of the gene. As Richard Dawkins famously put it, organisms are just ‘lumbering robots’ in the service of their genetic masters. On the other hand, there is a long holistic tradition that (...)
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  14. Massimo Pigliucci (2013). Getting a Rise Out of Genetic Engineering. In John Huss (ed.), Planet of the Apes and Philosophy: Great Apes Think Alike. Open Court.
    What makes humans different from other animals, what humans are entitled to do to other species, whether time travel is possible, what limits should be placed on science and technology, the morality and practicality of genetic engineering—these are just some of the philosophical problems raised by Planet of the Apes. Planet of the Apes and Philosophy looks at all the deeper issues involved in the Planet of the Apes stories. It covers the entire franchise, from Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel Monkey (...)
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  15. Massimo Pigliucci (2013). New Atheism and the Scientistic Turn in the Atheism Movement. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 37 (1):142-153.
    The so-called “New Atheism” is a relatively well-defined, very recent, still unfold- ing cultural phenomenon with import for public understanding of both science and philosophy. Arguably, the opening salvo of the New Atheists was The End of Faith by Sam Harris, published in 2004, followed in rapid succession by a number of other titles penned by Harris himself, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Victor Stenger, and Christopher Hitchens.
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  16. Massimo Pigliucci (2013). On Naturalism. Philosophy Now 96 (96):47-47.
    The term ‘naturalism’ has a long and complex history in modern philosophy. W.V.O. Quine famously advocated what has come to be known as a ‘naturalistic turn’ for philosophy as a discipline, meaning that philosophical thought should become continuous with the natural sciences – even claiming that epistemology (theory of knowledge) is nothing but applied psychology.
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  17. Massimo Pigliucci (2013). Pseudoscience. In Byron Kaldis (ed.), Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Social Sciences. SAGE.
    The term pseudoscience refers to a highly heterogeneous set of practices, beliefs, and claims sharing the property of appearing to be scientific when in fact they contradict either scientific findings or the methods by which science proceeds. Classic examples of pseudoscience include astrology, parapsychology, and ufology; more recent entries are the denial of a causal link between the HIV virus and AIDS or the claim that vaccines cause autism. To distinguish between science and pseudoscience is part of what the philosopher (...)
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  18. Massimo Pigliucci (2013). The Ajax Dilemma. [REVIEW] Philosophy Now (95).
    In the 5th century BCE, Sophocles wrote a tragedy about the rivalry between the Greek heroes Ajax and Odysseus. The two competed for the title of most valuable man in the army that was laying siege to Troy. The prize was Achilles’ armor (he was dead, you know), which was forged by none other than the god Hephaestus. The Greeks’ leader, Agamemnon, was a bit of a coward, and he made a jury of soldiers decide the contest instead of taking (...)
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  19. Massimo Pigliucci (2013). The Demarcation Problem: A (Belated) Response to Laudan. In Massimo Pigliucci & Maarten Boudry (eds.), Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem. University of Chicago Press. 9.
    The “demarcation problem,” the issue of how to separate science from pseu- doscience, has been around since fall 1919—at least according to Karl Pop- per’s (1957) recollection of when he first started thinking about it. In Popper’s mind, the demarcation problem was intimately linked with one of the most vexing issues in philosophy of science, David Hume’s problem of induction (Vickers 2010) and, in particular, Hume’s contention that induction cannot be logically justified by appealing to the fact that “it works,” (...)
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  20. Massimo Pigliucci (2013). The Nature of Evolutionary Biology: At the Borderlands Between Historical and Experimental Science. In Kostas Kampourakis (ed.), The Philosophy of Biology: A Companion for Educators. Springer.
    The scientific status of evolutionary theory seems to be more or less perennially under question. I am not referring here (just) to the silliness of young Earth creation- ism (Pigliucci 2002; Boudry and Braeckman 2010), or even of the barely more intel- lectually sophisticated so-called Intelligent Design theory (Recker 2010; Brigandt this volume), but rather to discussions among scientists and philosophers of science concerning the epistemic status of evolutionary theory (Sober 2010). As we shall see in what follows, this debate (...)
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  21. Massimo Pigliucci (2013). What Are We to Make of the Concept of Race? Thoughts of a Philosopher–Scientist. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (3):272-277.
    Discussions about the biological bases (or lack thereof) of the concept of race in the human species seem to be never ending. One of the latest rounds is represented by a paper by Neven Sesardic, which attempts to build a strong scientific case for the existence of human races, based on genetic, morphometric and behavioral characteristics, as well as on a thorough critique of opposing positions. In this paper I show that Sesardic’s critique falls far short of the goal, and (...)
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  22. Massimo Pigliucci (2013). What Hard Problem? Philosophy Now (99).
    The philosophical study of consciousness is chock full of thought experiments: John Searle’s Chinese Room, David Chalmers’ Philosophical Zombies, Frank Jackson’s Mary’s Room, and Thomas Nagel’s ‘What is it like to be a bat?’ among others. Many of these experiments and the endless discussions that follow them are predicated on what Chalmers famously referred as the ‘hard’ problem of consciousness: for him, it is ‘easy’ to figure out how the brain is capable of perception, information integration, attention, reporting on mental (...)
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  23. Massimo Pigliucci (2013). When Science Studies Religion: Six Philosophy Lessons for Science Classes. Science and Education 22 (1):49-67.
    It is an unfortunate fact of academic life that there is a sharp divide between science and philosophy, with scientists often being openly dismissive of philosophy, and philosophers being equally contemptuous of the naivete ́ of scientists when it comes to the philosophical underpinnings of their own discipline. In this paper I explore the possibility of reducing the distance between the two sides by introducing science students to some interesting philosophical aspects of research in evolutionary biology, using biological theories of (...)
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  24. Massimo Pigliucci & Maarten Boudry (2013). Prove It! The Burden of Proof Game in Science Vs. Pseudoscience Disputes. Philosophia 42 (2):487-502.
    The concept of burden of proof is used in a wide range of discourses, from philosophy to law, science, skepticism, and even in everyday reasoning. This paper provides an analysis of the proper deployment of burden of proof, focusing in particular on skeptical discussions of pseudoscience and the paranormal, where burden of proof assignments are most poignant and relatively clear-cut. We argue that burden of proof is often misapplied or used as a mere rhetorical gambit, with little appreciation of the (...)
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  25. Massimo Pigliucci & Maarten Boudry (eds.) (2013). Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem. University of Chicago Press.
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  26. Massimo Pigliucci & Maarten Boudry (2013). Why the Demarcation Problem Matters. In Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem.
    Ever since Socrates, philosophers have been in the business of asking ques- tions of the type “What is X?” The point has not always been to actually find out what X is, but rather to explore how we think about X, to bring up to the surface wrong ways of thinking about it, and hopefully in the process to achieve an increasingly better understanding of the matter at hand. In the early part of the twentieth century one of the most (...)
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  27. Massimo Pigliucci, Kim Sterelny & Werner Callebaut (2013). The Meaning of “Theory” in Biology. Biological Theory 7 (4):285-286.
  28. Massimo Pigliucci (2012). Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to A More Meaningful Life. Basic Books.
    How should we live? According to philosopher and biologist Massimo Pigliucci, the greatest guidance to this essential question lies in combining the wisdom of 24 centuries of philosophy with the latest research from 21st century science. In Answers for Aristotle, Pigliucci argues that the combination of science and philosophy first pioneered by Aristotle offers us the best possible tool for understanding the world and ourselves. As Aristotle knew, each mode of thought has the power to clarify the other: science provides (...)
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  29. Massimo Pigliucci (2012). Biology and Ideology: From Descartes to Dawkins. [REVIEW] Science and Education 15 (1).
    Science has always strived for objectivity, for a ‘‘view from nowhere’’ that is not marred by ideology or personal preferences. That is a lofty ideal toward which perhaps it makes sense to strive, but it is hardly the reality. This collection of thirteen essays assembled by Denis R. Alexander and Ronald L. Numbers ought to give much pause to scientists and the public at large, though historians, sociologists and philosophers of science will hardly be surprised by the material covered here.
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  30. Massimo Pigliucci (2012). Biology's Last Paradigm Shift. The Transition From Natural Theology to Darwinism. Paradigmi 2012 (3):45-58.
    The theory of evolution, which provides the conceptual framework for all modern research in organismal biology and informs research in molecular bi- ology, has gone through several stages of expansion and refinement. Darwin and Wallace (1858) of course proposed the original idea, centering on the twin concepts of natural selection and common descent. Shortly thereafter, Wallace and August Weismann worked toward the complete elimination of any Lamarckian vestiges from the theory, leaning in particular on Weismann’s (1893) concept of the separation (...)
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  31. Massimo Pigliucci (2012). Doctor Who and Philosophy. [REVIEW] Philosophy Now 89 (Mar/Apr):43-44.
    The good Doctor has a lot to say about philosophy.
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  32. Massimo Pigliucci (2012). Is Science All You Need? [REVIEW] The Philosophers' Magazine 57 (2nd Quarter):111-112.
    Why Rosenberg's bland of nihilistic atheism is problematic.
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  33. Massimo Pigliucci (2012). Landscapes, Surfaces, and Morphospaces: What Are They Good For? In E. Svensson & R. Calsbeek (eds.), The Adaptive Landscape in Evolutionary Biology.
    Few metaphors in biology are more enduring than the idea of Adaptive Landscapes, originally proposed by Sewall Wright (1932) as a way to visually present to an audience of typically non- mathematically savvy biologists his ideas about the relative role of natural selection and genetic drift in the course of evolution. The metaphor, how- ever, was born troubled, not the least reason for which is the fact that Wright presented different diagrams in his original paper that simply can- not refer (...)
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  34. Massimo Pigliucci, Nonsense on Stilts About Science: Field Adventures of a Scientist- Philosopher. Between Scientists and Citizens.
    Public discussions of science are often marred by two pernicious phenomena: a widespread rejection of scientific findings (e.g., the reality of anthropogenic climate change, the conclusion that vaccines do not cause autism, or the validity of evolutionary theory), coupled with an equally common acceptance of pseudoscientific notions (e.g., homeopathy, psychic readings, telepathy, tall tales about alien abductions, and so forth). The typical reaction by scientists and science educators is to decry the sorry state of science literacy among the general public, (...)
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  35. Massimo Pigliucci (2012). On the Different Ways of ‘‘Doing Theory’’ in Biology. Biological Theory 7 (4):DOI 10.1007/s13752-012-0047-1.
    ‘‘Theoretical biology’’ is a surprisingly heter- ogeneous field, partly because it encompasses ‘‘doing the- ory’’ across disciplines as diverse as molecular biology, systematics, ecology, and evolutionary biology. Moreover, it is done in a stunning variety of different ways, using anything from formal analytical models to computer sim- ulations, from graphic representations to verbal arguments. In this essay I survey a number of aspects of what it means to do theoretical biology, and how they compare with the allegedly much more restricted (...)
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  36. Massimo Pigliucci (2012). Philosophical Reflections on Darwin and Evolutionary Theory. [REVIEW] Trends in Ecology and Evolution 27 (5):258.
    Few scientists are conscious of the distinc- tion between the logic of what they write and the rhetoric of how they write it. This is because we are taught to write scientific papers and books from a third-person per- spective, using as impersonal (and, almost inevitably, boring [1]) a style as possible. The first chapter in Elliott Sober’s new book examines the difference between Darwin’s logic and his rhetoric in The Origin, and manages to teach some interesting and in- sightful (...)
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  37. Massimo Pigliucci (2012). Reflective Quilibrium. Philosophy Now 88 (Jan/Feb):27-27.
    A quick look at the concept of reflective equilibrium in philosophy.
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  38. Massimo Pigliucci (2012). Science Needs Philosophy. Australian Humanist, The 108 (108):16.
    Pigliucci, Massimo A recent New York Times article has noted a new trend in secular writings, what the author, James Atlas, termed 'Can't-Help-Yourself books'. This trend includes writings by prominent scientists and secularists that are characterised by two fundamental - and equally misguided - ideas: an over-enthusiastic embrace of science, and the dismissal of much of human experience under the generic label of 'illusion'.
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  39. Massimo Pigliucci (2012). Sherlock's Reasoning Toolbox. In Philip Tallon & David Baggett (eds.), The Philosophy of Sherlock Holmes. University Press of Kentucky.
  40. Massimo Pigliucci (2012). The Atheist's Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life Without Illusions, by Alex Rosenberg (WW Norton & Co) $25.95/£ 17.99. The Philosophers' Magazine 57:111-112.
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  41. Massimo Pigliucci (2012). Landscapes, Surfaces, and Morphospaces: What Are They Good For? In E. Svensson & R. Calsbeek (eds.), The Adaptive Landscape in Evolutionary Biology. Oup Oxford. 26.
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  42. Massimo Pigliucci (2012). Testing My Own Morality. Philosophy Now 91 (Jul/Aug):41-41.
    Apparently, I’m a righteous son of a bitch, morally speaking. At least that’s the conclusion I would have to reach if I trusted the results of a morality test I took at the BBC website (bbc.co.uk/labuk/experiments/morality). The test was devised to collect data for a “new theory” that seeks to make sense of human morality in terms of a super-organism concept. Briefly, the idea is that “we, as individuals, behave as if we are part of a bigger ‘superorganism’ when we (...)
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  43. Massimo Pigliucci (2012). The One Paradigm to Rule Them All. In D. A. Kowalski (ed.), The Big Bang Theory and Philosophy.
    A humorous treatment of scientism within the context of the television series, The Big Bang Theory.
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  44. Massimo Pigliucci (2012). The Really, Really Big Question. The Philosophers' Magazine 59 (4thQ):111-112.
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  45. Massimo Pigliucci (2012). Who Knows What - The War Between Science and the Humanities. Aeon.
    Whenever we try to make an inventory of humankind’s store of knowledge, we stumble into an ongoing battle between what CP Snow called ‘the two cultures’. On one side are the humanities, on the other are the sciences (natural and physical), with social science and philosophy caught somewhere in the middle. This is more than a turf dispute among academics. It strikes at the core of what we mean by human knowledge.
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  46. Gerd Muller & Massimo Pigliucci (2011). Extended Synthesis: Theory Expansion or Alternative? Biological Theory 5 (3):275-276.
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  47. Massimo Pigliucci (2011). Mathematical Platonism. Philosophy Now 84:47-47.
    Are numbers and other mathematical objects "out there" in some philosophically meaningful sense?
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  48. Massimo Pigliucci & Maarten Boudry (2011). Why Machine-Information Metaphors Are Bad for Science and Science Education. Science and Education 20 (453):471.
    Genes are often described by biologists using metaphors derived from computa- tional science: they are thought of as carriers of information, as being the equivalent of ‘‘blueprints’’ for the construction of organisms. Likewise, cells are often characterized as ‘‘factories’’ and organisms themselves become analogous to machines. Accordingly, when the human genome project was initially announced, the promise was that we would soon know how a human being is made, just as we know how to make airplanes and buildings. Impor- tantly, (...)
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  49. Gerd B. Müüller & Massimo Pigliucci (2010). Lindsay Craig-–The So-Called Extended Synthesis and Population Genetics. Biological Theory 5 (3):275-276.
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  50. Massimo Pigliucci (2010). A Misguided Attack on Evolution. [REVIEW] Nature 464:353-354.
    Why Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini are wrong about Darwin and evolution.
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  51. Massimo Pigliucci (ed.) (2010). Foreword to Julian Huxley's "Evolution: The Modern Synthesis&Quot;. MIT Press.
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  52. Massimo Pigliucci (2010). Genotype–Phenotype Mapping and the End of the ‘Genes as Blueprint’ Metaphor. Philosophical Transactions Royal Society B 365:557–566.
    In a now classic paper published in 1991, Alberch introduced the concept of genotype–phenotype (G!P) mapping to provide a framework for a more sophisticated discussion of the integration between genetics and developmental biology that was then available. The advent of evo-devo first and of the genomic era later would seem to have superseded talk of transitions in phenotypic space and the like, central to Alberch’s approach. On the contrary, this paper shows that recent empirical and theoretical advances have only sharpened (...)
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  53. Massimo Pigliucci (2010). Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science From Bunk. University of Chicago Press.
    Introduction : science versus pseudoscience and the "demarcation problem" -- Hard science, soft science -- Almost science -- Pseudoscience -- Blame the media? -- Debates on science : the rise of think tanks and the decline of public intellectuals -- Science and politics : the case of global warming -- Science in the courtroom : the case against intelligent design -- From superstition to natural philosophy -- From natural philosophy to modern science -- The science wars I : do we (...)
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  54. Massimo Pigliucci (2010). Okasha's Evolution and the Levels of Selection: Toward a Broader Conception of Theoretical Biology. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 25 (3):405-415.
    The debate about the levels of selection has been one of the most controversial both in evolutionary biology and in philosophy of science. Okasha’s book makes the sort of contribution that simply will not be able to be ignored by anyone interested in this field for many years to come. However, my interest here is in highlighting some examples of how Okasha goes about discussing his material to suggest that his book is part of an increasingly interesting trend that sees (...)
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  55. Massimo Pigliucci (2010). On Xenophobia. Philosophy Now (Aug/Sep).
    The science and philosophy of xenophobic behavior.
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  56. Massimo Pigliucci (2010). What Darwin Got Wrong. [REVIEW] Philosophy Now 81:38-39.
    What Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini got wrong about Darwin and evolution.
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  57. Massimo Pigliucci & Gerd Muller (eds.) (2010). Evolution – the Extended Synthesis. MIT Press.
    In the six decades since the publication of Julian Huxley's Evolution: The Modern Synthesis, spectacular empirical advances in the biological sciences have been accompanied by equally significant developments within the core theoretical framework of the discipline. As a result, evolutionary theory today includes concepts and even entire new fields that were not part of the foundational structure of the Modern Synthesis. In this volume, sixteen leading evolutionary biologists and philosophers of science survey the conceptual changes that have emerged since Huxley's (...)
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  58. Christina Richards, Oliver Bossdorf & Massimo Pigliucci (2010). What Role Does Heritable Epigenetic Variation Play in Phenotypic Evolution? BioScience 60 (3):232-237.
    To explore the potential evolutionary relevance of heritable epigenetic variation, the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center recently hosted a catalysis meeting that brought together molecular epigeneticists, experimental evolutionary ecologists, and theoretical population and quantitative geneticists working across a wide variety of systems. The group discussed the methods available to investigate epigenetic variation and epigenetic inheritance, and how to evaluate their importance for phenotypic evolution. We found that understanding the relevance of epigenetic effects in phe- notypic evolution will require clearly delineating epigenetics (...)
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  59. Massimo Pigliucci (2009). Down with Natural Selection? Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 52 (1):134-140.
    Biologists are increasingly reexamining the conceptual structure of evolutionary theory, which dates back to the so-called Modern Synthesis of the 1930s and 1940s. Calls for an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (EES) cite a number of empir- ical and theoretical advances that need to be accounted for, including evolvability, evo- lutionary novelties, capacitors of phenotypic evolution, developmental plasticity, and phenotypic attractors. In Biological Emergences, however, Robert Reid outlines a theory of evolution in which natural selection plays no role or—worse—actually impedes evo- lution (...)
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  60. Massimo Pigliucci (2009). An Extended Synthesis for Evolutionary Biology. Annals of the New York Academy of Science 1168:218-228.
    Evolutionary theory is undergoing an intense period of discussion and reevaluation. This, contrary to the misleading claims of creationists and other pseudoscientists, is no harbinger of a crisis but rather the opposite: the field is expanding dramatically in terms of both empirical discoveries and new ideas. In this essay I briefly trace the conceptual history of evolutionary theory from Darwinism to neo-Darwinism, and from the Modern Synthesis to what I refer to as the Extended Synthesis, a more inclusive conceptual framework (...)
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  61. Massimo Pigliucci (2009). Crossing the Divide. Philosophy Now (Nov/Dec):32.
    Crossing the cultural divide, half a century after C.P. Snow.
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  62. Massimo Pigliucci (2009). Do Extraordinary Claims Really Require Extraordinary Evidence? In K. Frazier (ed.), Science Under Siege: Defending Science, Exposing Pseudoscience. Prometheus.
    To what extend does David Hume's argument about miracles inform modern skepticism about pseudoscience?
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  63. Massimo Pigliucci (2009). Four Billion Years in a Thousand Pages. [REVIEW] BioScience 59 (8):706-707.
    This being the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species, as well as the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, there is a frenzy of events and publications devoted to the founder of the field of evolutionary biology and, by extension, to the his- tory, current status, and possible future of the entire discipline.
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  64. Massimo Pigliucci (2009). Hypotheses? Forget About It! Philosophy Now (Jul/Aug):47.
    On the status of hypotheses in science, and why scientists would be better off asking questions.
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  65. Massimo Pigliucci (2009). Is Intelligent Design Creationism? In Kendrick Frazier (ed.), Science Under Siege: Defending Science, Exposing Pseudoscience. Prometheus.
    Intelligent Design proponents want to distinguish themselves from creationists. But the distinction appears to be without a difference.
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  66. Massimo Pigliucci (2009). Review of Peter Godfrey-Smith, Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2009 (8).
    Ever since the publication of Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene, a book for the lay reader that popularized the ideas of influential evolutionary biologists like William Hamilton and George Williams, there has been much discussion of so-called "universal Darwinism". Dawkins' dual aim was to reduce evolutionary phenomena to the level of the gene, while at the same time abstracting the Darwinian process of natural selection of "replicators" and making it into something that would apply beyond the domain of biology.
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  67. Massimo Pigliucci (2009). Review - What Should I Believe? [REVIEW] Metapsychology.
    Dorothy Rowe's book amounts to a spectacularly missed chance to make a significant contribution to the very important questions the author set out to address. The book promises to provide an answer to "why our beliefs about the nature of death and the purpose of life dominate our lives," but ends up being a bizarre hodgepodge of self-help psychology, uninformative case studies, and a large number of disconnected personal observations -- the whole thing peppered here and there with philosophical and (...)
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  68. Massimo Pigliucci (2009). Samir Okasha: Evolution and the Levels of Selection. Biology and Philosophy 24 (4):551-560.
    The debate about the levels of selection has been one of the most controversial both in evolutionary biology and in philosophy of science. Okasha’s book makes the sort of contribution that simply will not be able to be ignored by anyone interested in this field for many years to come. However, my interest here is in highlighting some examples of how Okasha goes about discussing his material to suggest that his book is part of an increasingly interesting trend that sees (...)
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  69. Massimo Pigliucci (2009). The Evolution of Evolutionary Theory. Philosophy Now 71 (Jan/Feb):6-8.
    Evolutionary theory has evolved over time, but has there ever been a paradigm shift in evolutionary biology?
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  70. Massimo Pigliucci (2009). The Overwhelming Evidence. [REVIEW] Science 323:716-717.
    Jerry Coyne on the truth of evolution as a fact.
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  71. Massimo Pigliucci (2008). Adaptive Landscapes, Phenotypic Space, and the Power of Metaphors. [REVIEW] Quarterly Review of Biology 83 (3):283-287.
    Metaphors play a crucial role in both science in particular and human discourse in gen- eral. Plato’s story of the cave—about people shackled to a wall and incapable of perceiv- ing the world as it really is—has stimulated thinking about epistemology and the nature of reality for more than two millennia. But metaphors can also be misleading: being too taken with Plato’s story has cost philosophers endless discussions about how to access the world “as it is,” until Kant showed us (...)
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  72. Massimo Pigliucci (2008). A Transcendental Philosophy of Science. Philosophy Now 66:48.
    Can there be a transcendental philosophy of science? What would it be good for?
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  73. Massimo Pigliucci (2008). Are You an Expert? [REVIEW] Quarterly Review of Biology 83 (1):87-90.
    Scientists are, by any understanding of the term, experts. But what exactly is an expert, and on what grounds is the nonexpert going to decide whom to trust? Leave it to philosophers to ask such uncomfortable questions, and the volume edited by Selinger and Crease is an excellent starting point for this discussion.
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  74. Massimo Pigliucci (2008). Is Evolvability Evolvable? Nature Reviews Genetics 9:75-82.
    In recent years, biologists have increasingly been asking whether the ability to evolve — the evolvability — of biological systems, itself evolves, and whether this phenomenon is the result of natural selection or a by-product of other evolutionary processes. The concept of evolvability, and the increasing theoretical and empirical literature that refers to it, may constitute one of several pillars on which an extended evolutionary synthesis will take shape during the next few years, although much work remains to be done (...)
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  75. Massimo Pigliucci (2008). Is Science Going to End? Philosophy Now 68:45.
    Will the scientific quest ever end? Will it be with a bang or with a whisper?
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  76. Massimo Pigliucci (2008). The Old and the New. Philosophy Now 70:38.
    Does philosophy make progress? Is it difference from science? Why?
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  77. Massimo Pigliucci (2008). Sewall Wright's Adaptive Landscapes: 1932 Vs. 1988. Biology and Philosophy 23 (5):591-603.
    Sewall Wright introduced the metaphor of evolution on “adaptive landscapes” in a pair of papers published in 1931 and 1932. The metaphor has been one of the most influential in modern evolutionary biology, although recent theoretical advancements show that it is deeply flawed and may have actually created research questions that are not, in fact, fecund. In this paper I examine in detail what Wright actually said in the 1932 paper, as well as what he thought of the matter at (...)
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  78. Massimo Pigliucci (2008). The Borderlands Between Science and Philosophy. Quarterly Review of Biology 83 (1):7-15.
    Science and philosophy have a very long history, dating back at least to the 16th and 17th centuries, when the first scientist-philosophers, such as Bacon, Galilei, and Newton, were beginning the process of turning natural philosophy into science. Contemporary relationships between the two fields are still to some extent marked by the distrust that maintains the divide between the so-called “two cultures.” An increasing number of philosophers, however, are making conceptual contributions to sciences ranging from quantum mechanics to evolutionary biology, (...)
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  79. Massimo Pigliucci (2008). The Proper Role of Population Genetics in Modern Evolutionary Theory. Biological Theory 3 (4):316-324.
    Evolutionary biology is a field currently animated by much discussion concerning its conceptual foundations. On the one hand, we have supporters of a classical view of evolutionary theory, whose backbone is provided by population genetics and the so-called Modern Synthesis (MS). On the other hand, a number of researchers are calling for an Extended Synthe- sis (ES) that takes seriously both the limitations of the MS (such as its inability to incorporate developmental biology) and recent empirical and theoretical research on (...)
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  80. Massimo Pigliucci (2008). What, If Anything, is an Evolutionary Novelty? Philosophy of Science 75 (5):887-898.
    The idea of phenotypic novelty appears throughout the evolutionary literature. Novelties have been defined so broadly as to make the term meaningless and so narrowly as to apply only to a limited number of spectacular structures. Here I examine some of the available definitions of phenotypic novelty and argue that the modern synthesis is ill equipped at explaining novelties. I then discuss three frameworks that may help biologists get a better insight of how novelties arise during evolution but warn that (...)
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  81. Massimo Pigliucci (2008). Weighing the Evidence in Evolutionary Biology. [REVIEW] Trends in Ecology and Evolution 23 (12):662-663.
    The joke among scientists is that ‘philosopher’ is the last stage of one’s scien- tific career, to be arrived at when one can no longer get grants funded or graduate stu- dents to advise. Despite the fact that some of the greatest minds in evolutionary biology (from Darwin to Ernst Mayr) were very much interested in the philosophical aspects of what they were doing, the bad joke persists in the halls of academia.
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  82. Massimo Pigliucci (2007). A Mind of its Own. [REVIEW] Quarterly Review of Biology 81:418-419.
    If you think your brain is an objective processor of data about the world, capable of reaching objec- tive, unbiased conclusions, think again. And if you want to really worry about it, then read this nicely written little booklet by Cordelia Fine, A Mind of Its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives. Our brain can be vain, emotional, deluded, pigheaded, secre- tive, and bigoted, all of which are words appearing in the chapter titles of Fine’s volume.
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  83. Massimo Pigliucci (2007). Creationism as a Cultural, Not Scientific, Issue. In T. Flynn (ed.), The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief. Prometheus.
    Why creationism is an important cultural, but scientifically negligible, phenomenon.
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  84. Massimo Pigliucci (2007). Do We Need an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis? Evolution 61 (12):2743-2749.
    The Modern Synthesis (MS) is the current paradigm in evolutionary biology. It was actually built by expanding on the conceptual foundations laid out by its predecessors, Darwinism and neo-Darwinism. For sometime now there has been talk of a new Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (EES), and this article begins to outline why we may need such an extension, and how it may come about. As philosopher Karl Popper has noticed, the current evolutionary theory is a theory of genes, and we still lack (...)
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  85. Massimo Pigliucci (2007). Evolution, Schmevolution: Jon Stewart and the Culture Wars. In J. Holt (ed.), The Daily Show and Philosophy. Wiley.
    Jon Stewart, the famous comic of the Daily Show, takes on creationism, intelligent design and evolution.
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  86. Massimo Pigliucci (2007). Finding the Way in Phenotypic Space: The Origin and Maintenance of Constraints on Organismal Form. Annals of Botany 100:433-438.
    Background: One of the all-time questions in evolutionary biology regards the evolution of organismal shapes, and in particular why certain forms appear repeatedly in the history of life, others only seldom and still others not at all. Recent research in this field has deployed the conceptual framework of constraints and natural selection as measured by quantitative genetic methods. -/- Scope: In this paper I argue that quantitative genetics can by necessity only provide us with useful statistical sum- maries that may (...)
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  87. Massimo Pigliucci (2007). Darwinism & Philosophy. [REVIEW] Quarterly Review of Biology 82 (1):33-35.
    The relationship between science and philosophy has always been a complex one, almost as much as the one that either discipline has with religion. Of course, science historically originated as a branch of philosophy, but ever since the split became per- manent during the 17th and 18th centuries, sci- entists have felt increasingly contemptuous of “armchair speculation,” and philosophers have progressively been fearful of cultural colonization on the part of science. It would be hard to find a better exemplification of (...)
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  88. Massimo Pigliucci (2007). Post-Genomic Musings. [REVIEW] Science 317:1172-1173.
    Everyone in biology keeps predicting that the next few years will bring answers to some of the major open questions in evolutionary biology, but there seems to be disagreement on what, exactly, those questions are. Enthusiasts of the various “-omics” (genomics, proteomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics, and even phenomics) believe, as Michael Lynch puts it in the final chapter of The Origins of Genome Architecture, that “we can be confident of two things: the basic theoretical machinery for understanding the evolutionary process is (...)
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  89. Massimo Pigliucci (2007). Primates, Philosophers and the Biological Basis of Morality: A Review of Primates and Philosophers by Frans de Waal, Princeton University Press, 2006, 200 Pp. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 22 (4):611-618.
    Philosophical inquiries into morality are as old as philosophy, but it may turn out that morality itself is much, much older than that. At least, that is the main thesis of prima- tologist Frans De Waal, who in this short book based on his Tanner Lectures at Princeton, elaborates on what biologists have been hinting at since Darwin’s (1871) book The Descent of Man and Hamilton’s (1963) studies on the evolution of altruism: morality is yet another allegedly human characteristic that (...)
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  90. Massimo Pigliucci (2007). Philosophy, Science and Everything in Between. Philosophy Now 59:17-18.
    A few field notes from the philosophy of science meeting in Vancouver.
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  91. Massimo Pigliucci (2007). Fieldnotes From the Borderlands. Philosophy Now 63:48.
    Musings and observations of a scientist turned philosopher.
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  92. Massimo Pigliucci (2007). Stephen Jay Gould. In T. Flynn (ed.), The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief. Prometheus.
    A brief biography of evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould.
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  93. Massimo Pigliucci (2007). The Evolution-Creation Wars: Why Teaching More Science Just is Not Enough. McGill Journal of Education 42 (2):285-306.
    The creation-evolution “controversy” has been with us for more than a century. Here I argue that merely teaching more science will probably not improve the situation; we need to understand the controversy as part of a broader problem with public acceptance of pseudoscience, and respond by teaching how science works as a method. Critical thinking is difficult to teach, but educators can rely on increasing evidence from neurobiology about how the brain learns, or fails to.
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  94. Massimo Pigliucci (2007). The Problems with Creationism. In A. J. Petto & L. R. Godfrey (eds.), Scientists Confront Intelligent Design and Creationism. Norton.
    On the cultural roots, philosophical issues and science education of various blends of creationism.
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  95. Massimo Pigliucci (2007). What's New in Philosophy of Biology? [REVIEW] Bioessays 29:1171-1172.
    There appears much new in philosophy of biology, the exploding field in philosophy of science over the past few decades.
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  96. Massimo Pigliucci (2006). Evolutionary Biology: Puzzle Solving or Paradigm Shifting? Quarterly Review of Biology 81 (4):377-379.
    How does evolutionary biology fit with Thomas Kuhn's famous distinction between puzzle solving and paradigm shifts in science?
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  97. Massimo Pigliucci (2006). Genetic Variance–Covariance Matrices: A Critique of the Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics Research Program. Biology and Philosophy 21 (1):1-23.
    This paper outlines a critique of the use of the genetic variance–covariance matrix (G), one of the central concepts in the modern study of natural selection and evolution. Specifically, I argue that for both conceptual and empirical reasons, studies of G cannot be used to elucidate so-called constraints on natural selection, nor can they be employed to detect or to measure past selection in natural populations – contrary to what assumed by most practicing biologists. I suggest that the search for (...)
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  98. Massimo Pigliucci (2006). Have We Solved Darwin's Dilemma? [REVIEW] American Scientist 94:272-274.
    Is life plausible? WeU, it's more than plausible, it has actually happened! What we need to ask, rather, is whether our explanations for how life came about and diversified are plausible. So the title of Marc W. Kirschner and John C. Gerhart's book implies the wrong question. Despite that. The Plausibility of Life makes for informative and enjoyable reading, and the issues the authors raise are worthy of attention.
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  99. Massimo Pigliucci (2006). Is Ethics a Science? Philosophy Now (May/Jun):25.
    Can ethics be approached scientifically? What's the relationship between science and the study of morality?
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  100. Massimo Pigliucci (2006). Sturtevant and Dobzhansky: Two Scientists at Odds. [REVIEW] Quarterly Review of Biology 81 (3):265-266.
    A student recalls his experiences with two great figures of 20th century biology.
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  101. Massimo Pigliucci (2006). What is a Thought Experiment, Anyhow? Philosophy Now (Nov/Dec):30.
    Thought experiments are cheap and popular, but how do they work?
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  102. Massimo Pigliucci & Jonathan Kaplan (2006). Making Sense of Evolution: The Conceptual Foundations of Evolutionary Theory. University of Chicago Press.
    Making Sense of Evolution explores contemporary evolutionary biology, focusing on the elements of theories—selection, adaptation, and species—that are complex and open to multiple possible interpretations, many of which are incompatible with one another and with other accepted practices in the discipline. Particular experimental methods, for example, may demand one understanding of “selection,” while the application of the same concept to another area of evolutionary biology could necessitate a very different definition.
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  103. Massimo Pigliucci, Courtney Murren & Carl Schlichting (2006). Phenotypic Plasticity and Evolution by Genetic Assimilation. Journal of Experimental Biology 209:2362-2367.
    In addition to considerable debate in the recent evolutionary literature about the limits of the Modern Synthesis of the 1930s and 1940s, there has also been theoretical and empirical interest in a variety of new and not so new concepts such as phenotypic plasticity, genetic assimilation and phenotypic accommodation. Here we consider examples of the arguments and counter- arguments that have shaped this discussion. We suggest that much of the controversy hinges on several misunderstandings, including unwarranted fears of a general (...)
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  104. Massimo Pigliucci (2005). Bayes's Theorem. [REVIEW] Quarterly Review of Biology 80 (1):93-95.
    About a British Academy collection of papers on Bayes' famous theorem.
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  105. Massimo Pigliucci (2005). Expanding Evolution. [REVIEW] Nature 435:565-566.
    There have been rumblings for some time to the effect that the neo-darwinian synthesis of the early twentieth century is incomplete and due for a major revision. In the past decade, several authors have written books to articu- late this feeling and to begin the move towards a second synthesis. David Rollo, in his book Phenotypes (Kluwer, 1994), was among the first to attempt to bring the focus back to the problems posed by phenotypic evolution. In Phenotypic Evolution (Sinauer, 1998), (...)
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  106. Massimo Pigliucci (2005). Evolution of Phenotypic Plasticity: Where Are We Going Now? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 20 (9):481-486.
    The study of phenotypic plasticity has progressed significantly over the past few decades. We have moved from variation for plasticity being considered as a nuisance in evolutionary studies to it being the primary target of investigations that use an array of methods, including quantitative and molecular genetics, as well as of several approaches that model the evolution of plastic responses. Here, I consider some of the major aspects of research on phenotypic plasticity, assessing where progress has been made and where (...)
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  107. Massimo Pigliucci (2005). More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Intelligent Design. [REVIEW] Evolution 59 (12):2717-2720.
    The so-called evolution wars (Futuyma 1995; Pigliucci 2002) between the scientific understanding of the history of life on earth and various religiously inspired forms of cre- ationism are more than ever at the forefront of the broader ‘‘science wars,’’ themselves a part of the even more encom- passing ‘‘cultural wars.’’ With all these conflicts going on, and at a time when a potentially historical case on the teach- ing of Intelligent Design (ID) in public schools is being de- bated in (...)
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  108. Massimo Pigliucci (2005). Wittgenstein Solves (Posthumously) the Species Problem. Philosophy Now (Mar/Apr):51.
    Can Wittgenstein's famous family resemblance concept be applied to resolve the problem of defining species in biology?
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  109. Matthew Johnson & Massimo Pigliucci (2004). Is Knowledge of Science Associated with Higher Skepticism of Pseudoscientific Claims? American Biology Teacher 66 (8):536-548.
    We live in a world that is increasingly shaped by and bathed in science, with most scientific progress occurring in the past century, and much of it in the past few decades. Yet, several authors have puz- zled over the observation that modern societies are also characterized by a high degree of belief in a variety of pseudoscientific claims that have been thoroughly debunked or otherwise discarded by scientists (Anonymous, 2001; Ede, 2000).
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  110. Massimo Pigliucci (2004). Beyond the Gene, Almost. [REVIEW] BioScience 54 (6):591-592.
    Review of a book on going beyond the gene in the study of developmental and evolutionary biology.
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  111. Massimo Pigliucci (2004). Embryology, Epigenesis, and Evolution. [REVIEW] Quarterly Review of Biology 79:423-425.
    On a book concerned with taking developmental biology seriously within the context of evolutionary theory.
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  112. Massimo Pigliucci (2004). Natural Selection and its Limits: Where Ecology Meets Evolution. In R. Casagrandi P. Melia (ed.), Atti del XIII Congresso Nazionale della Societa` Italiana di Ecologia.
    Natural selection [Darwin 1859] is perhaps the most important component of evolutionary theory, since it is the only known process that can bring about the adaptation of living organisms to their environments [Gould 2002]. And yet, its study is conceptually and methodologically complex, and much attention needs to be paid to a variety of phenomena that can limit the efficacy of selection [Antonovics 1976; Pigliucci and Kaplan 2000]. In this essay, I will use examples of recent work carried out in (...)
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  113. Massimo Pigliucci (2004). What is Philosophy of Science Good For? Philosophy Now 44:45.
    What is the purpose of philosophy of science? Here are some answers.
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  114. Massimo Pigliucci (2004). Secular Humanism and Politics: An Unapologetically Liberal Perspective. In B. F. Seidman & N. J. Murphy (eds.), Toward a New Political Humanism. Prometheus.
    An exploration of the relationship between secular humanism and politics, from a liberal perspective.
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  115. Massimo Pigliucci (2004). Studying Mutational Effects on G-Matrices. In M. Pigliucci K. Preston (ed.), The Evolutionary Biology of Complex Phenotypes.
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  116. Massimo Pigliucci (2004). Studying the Plasticity of Phenotypic Integration in a Model Organism. In M. Pigliucci K. Preston (ed.), The Evolutionary Biology of Complex Phenotypes. Oxford University Press.
    How to use a model organism to study phenotypic integration and constraints on evolution.
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  117. Massimo Pigliucci & Katherine Preston (eds.) (2004). Phenotypic Integration: Studying the Ecology and Evolution of Complex Phenotypes. Oxford University Press.
    A new voice in the nature-nurture debate can be heard at the interface between evolution and development. Phenotypic integration is a major growth area in research.
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  118. Jonathan Kaplan & Massimo Pigliucci (2003). On the Concept of Biological Race and its Applicability to Humans. Philosophy of Science 69 (3):S294-S304.
    Biological research on race has often been seen as motivated by or lending credence to underlying racist attitudes; in part for this reason, recently philosophers and biologists have gone through great pains to essentially deny the existence of biological human races. We argue that human races, in the biological sense of local populations adapted to particular environments, do in fact exist; such races are best understood through the common ecological concept of ecotypes. However, human ecotypic races do not in general (...)
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  119. Massimo Pigliucci (2003). Epigenetic is Back! Cell Cycle 2 (1):34-35.
    Back in 1942, C.H. Waddington proposed a new mechanism of evolutionary change, which he termed “genetic assimilation”.1,2 The idea was that certain environmental or genetic factors can disrupt the normally canalized (i.e., stable) course of development of living organisms. This disruption may then generate phenotypic variation that could allow a population to persist in a novel or stressful environment until new mutations would eventually let natural selection fix (“assimilate”) the advantageous phenotypic variants.
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  120. Massimo Pigliucci (2003). From Molecules to Phenotypes? The Promise and Limits of Integrative Biology. Basic and Applied Ecology 4:297-306.
    Is integrative biology a good idea, or even possible? There has been much interest lately in the unifica- tion of biology and the integration of traditionally separate disciplines such as molecular and develop- mental biology on one hand, and ecology and evolutionary biology on the other. In this paper I ask if and under what circumstances such integration of efforts actually makes sense. I develop by example an analogy with Aristotle’s famous four “causes” that one can investigate concerning any object (...)
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  121. Massimo Pigliucci (2003). Genetic Assimilation and a Possible Evolutionary Paradox: Can Macroevolution Sometimes Be so Fast to Pass Us By? Evolution 57 (7):1455-1464.
    The idea of genetic assimilation, that environmentally induced phenotypes may become genetically fixed and no longer require the original environmental stimulus, has had varied success through time in evolutionary biology research. Proposed by Waddington in the 1940s, it became an area of active empirical research mostly thanks to the efforts of its inventor and his collaborators. It was then attacked as of minor importance during the ‘‘hardening’’ of the neo-Darwinian synthesis and was relegated to a secondary role for decades. Recently, (...)
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  122. Massimo Pigliucci (2003). Nature Via Nurture:. [REVIEW] Nature Genetics 35 (3):199-200.
    On the nature-nurture debate and the complexities of what make us human.
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  123. Massimo Pigliucci (2003). On the Relationship Between Science and Ethics. Zygon 38 (4):871-894.
    The relationship between ethics and science has been discussed within the framework of continuity versus discontinuity theories, each of which can take several forms. Continuity theorists claim that ethics is a science or at least that it has deep similarities with the modus operandi of science. Discontinuity theorists reject such equivalency, while at the same time many of them claim that ethics does deal with objective truths and universalizable statements, just not in the same sense as science does. I propose (...)
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  124. Massimo Pigliucci (2003). Phenotypic Integration: Studying the Ecology and Evolution of Complex Phenotypes. Ecology Letters 6:265-272.
    Phenotypic integration refers to the study of complex patterns of covariation among functionally related traits in a given organism. It has been investigated throughout the 20th century, but has only recently risen to the forefront of evolutionary ecological research. In this essay, I identify the reasons for this late flourishing of studies on integration, and discuss some of the major areas of current endeavour: the interplay of adaptation and constraints, the genetic and molecular bases of integration, the role of phenotypic (...)
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  125. Massimo Pigliucci (2003). Species as Family Resemblance Concepts: The (Dis-)Solution of the Species Problem? Bioessays 25 (6):596-602.
    The so-called ‘‘species problem’’ has plagued evolution- ary biology since before Darwin’s publication of the aptly titled Origin of Species. Many biologists think the problem is just a matter of semantics; others complain that it will not be solved until we have more empirical data. Yet, we don’t seem to be able to escape discussing it and teaching seminars about it. In this paper, I briefly examine the main themes of the biological and philosophical liter- atures on the species problem, (...)
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  126. Massimo Pigliucci (2003). The New Evolutionary Synthesis: Around the Corner, or Impossible Chimaera? [REVIEW] Quarterly Review of Biology 78 (4):449-453.
    In the fall of 1990 I had just began my doc- toral studies at the University of Connecticut. Freshly arrived from Italy, I came to the United States to work with Carl Schlichting on something to do with phenotypic plastic- ity. I spent most of that semester discussing with other graduate students what I thought was a momentous paper by Mary Jane West- Eberhard (1989) in the Annual Review of Ecol- ogy and Systematics. That paper, entitled Phe- notypic Plasticity and (...)
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  127. Massimo Pigliucci (2002). Are Ecology and Evolutionary Biology “Soft” Sciences? Annales Zoologici Finnici 39:87-98.
    Research in ecology and evolutionary biology (evo-eco) often tries to emulate the “hard” sciences such as physics and chemistry, but to many of its practitioners feels more like the “soft” sciences of psychology and sociology. I argue that this schizophrenic attitude is the result of lack of appreciation of the full consequences of the peculiarity of the evo-eco sciences as lying in between a-historical disciplines such as physics and completely historical ones as like paleontology. Furthermore, evo-eco researchers have gotten stuck (...)
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  128. Massimo Pigliucci (2002). Beyond Nature Versus Nurture. The Philosophers' Magazine (19):20-21.
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  129. Massimo Pigliucci (2002). Buffer Zone. Nature 417 (598):599.
    Living organisms are caught between a hammer and an anvil, evolutionarily speaking. On the one hand, they need to buffer the influences of genetic mutations and environmental stresses if they are to develop normally and maintain a coherent and functional form. On the other, stabiliz- ing one’s development too much may mean not being able to respond at all to changes in the environment and starting down the primrose path to extinction. On page 618 of this issue, Queitsch et al.1 (...)
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  130. Massimo Pigliucci (2002). Defending Evolution, as Strange as It May Seem. [REVIEW] Evolution 56 (1):206-208.
    The wake-up call has been sounded many times, and yet scientists and science educators keep trying to ignore it: turn- ing the other cheek, asleep in their ivory towers. Creationists have made steady advances since the 1960s, despite having been repeatedly and soundly defeated in the courtrooms (the last time they won a legal battle was at the Scopes trial in Tennessee in 1925). The advances are being made at the level that is farthest from the everyday concern of most (...)
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  131. Massimo Pigliucci (2002). Denying Evolution: Creation, Scientism, and the Nature of Science. Sinauer.
    Denying Evolution aims at taking a fresh look at the evolution–creation controversy. It presents a truly “balanced” treatment, not in the sense of treating creationism as a legitimate scientific theory (it demonstrably is not), but in the sense of dividing the blame for the controversy equally between creationists and scientists—the former for subscribing to various forms of anti-intellectualism, the latter for discounting science education and presenting science as scientism to the public and the media. The central part of the book (...)
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  132. Massimo Pigliucci (2002). Educating the Educators. In R. Dawkins (ed.), Darwin Day Collection One: Single Best Idea, Ever. Tangled Bank Press.
    Concerning how to educate science educators about the nature of science, in the context of the creationism debates.
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  133. Massimo Pigliucci (2002). On Death: Thoughts of an Optimistic Atheist. In P. Schoenewaldt:, S. R. Harris & M. Kallet (eds.), Faith & Reason Look at Death. University of Tennessee Libraries.
    When I was fifteen, I was having serious doubts about the existence of a supernatural entity benevolently looking over me, and—perhaps even more disturbingly—about the possibility of an afterlife in which I would again see my friends and relatives and exist happily ever after. It was at that point that I started reading the writings of Bertrand Russell,1,2 one of the most controversial philosophers and political activists of the Twentieth century.
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  134. Massimo Pigliucci (2002). Philosophizing About the Mind. Philosophy Now 36:11-13.
    A brief inquiry into philosophy of mind, its history, and its current schools of thought.
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  135. Jonathan Michael Kaplan & Massimo Pigliucci (2001). Genes `For' Phenotypes: A Modern History View. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 16 (2):189--213.
    We attempt to improve the understanding of the notion of agene being `for a phenotypic trait or traits. Considering theimplicit functional ascription of one thing being `for another,we submit a more restrictive version of `gene for talk.Accordingly, genes are only to be thought of as being forphenotypic traits when good evidence is available that thepresence or prevalence of the gene in a population is the resultof natural selection on that particular trait, and that theassociation between that trait and the gene (...)
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  136. Massimo Pigliucci (2001). Characters and Environments. In G. P. Wagner (ed.), The Character Concept in Evolutionary Biology. Academic Press.
    The concepts of reaction norms and phenotypic plasticity help us better understand what a biological trait is.
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  137. Massimo Pigliucci (2001). Design, Yes; Intelligent, No. Philosophy Now 32:26-29.
    Were we designed by an intelligent creation? Not likely: living organisms are designed, yes, but not intelligently...
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  138. Massimo Pigliucci (2001). Intelligent Design Theory. [REVIEW] BioScience 51 (5):411-414.
    Because there are omissions, simplifi- cations, and inaccuracies in some general biology textbooks, obviously the modern theory of evolution must be wrong. This is the astounding line of rea- soning that is the backbone of Jonathan Wells’s Icons of Evolution. It is the latest book in a series of neocreationist pro- ductions (this one dressed with the slightly more respectable label of “intel- ligent design theory” [Pigliucci 2000a]) to drive a stake into the perceived perni- ciousness of modern science, and (...)
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  139. Massimo Pigliucci (2001). No Icons of Evolution: A Review of Icons of E Volution. [REVIEW] BioScience 51 (5):411-414.
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  140. Massimo Pigliucci (2001). Phenotypic Plasticity. In C. W. Fox D. A. Roff (ed.), Evolutionary Ecology: Concepts and Case Studies.
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  141. Massimo Pigliucci (2001). Phenotypic Plasticity: Beyond Nature and Nurture. Johns Hopkins University Press.
    Phenotypic plasticity integrates the insights of ecological genetics, developmental biology, and evolutionary theory. Plasticity research asks foundational questions about how living organisms are capable of variation in their genetic makeup and in their responses to environmental factors. For instance, how do novel adaptive phenotypes originate? How do organisms detect and respond to stressful environments? What is the balance between genetic or natural constraints (such as gravity) and natural selection? The author begins by defining phenotypic plasticity and detailing its history, including (...)
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  142. Massimo Pigliucci (2001). The Ethics of Tit-for-Tat. Philosophy Now 33:28-29.
    Taking a quick look at game theory, rational egoism and the evolution of fairness.
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  143. M. Pigliucci (2000). Review of The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance Through Small Probabilities, by William Dembski. [REVIEW] BioScience 50:79-81.
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  144. Massimo Pigliucci (2000). Chance, Necessity, and the War Against Science. [REVIEW] BioScience 50 (1):79-87.
    A wannabe mathematician-philosopher thinks he has figured out a way to demonstrate why evolution is wrong and intelligent design is the right answer.
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  145. Massimo Pigliucci (2000). Of Beasts, Kids, and Science as a Method. [REVIEW] BioScience 50 (9):826-827.
    A look at one of the few books on evolution for kids.
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  146. Massimo Pigliucci (2000). Tales of the Rational: Skeptical Essays About Nature and Science. Freethought Press.
    If evolutionary biologist Massimo Pigliucci didn't exist, it would be necessary to invent him. His Tales of the Rational defines an intellectual space as far removed as hardcore religious fundamentalism from mainstream thinking--but it may be coming closer as scientists and skeptics launch more aggressive attacks on pseudoscience and fuzzy thinking. Pigliucci, a rising star on the evolution-creationism debate circuit, pulls out all the stops in his work, not content merely to defend science against its detractors, but eagerly undermining belief (...)
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  147. Massimo Pigliucci & Jonathan Kaplan (2000). The Fall and Rise of Dr. Pangloss: Adaptationism and the Spandrels Paper 20 Years Later. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 15 (2):66-77.
    Twenty years have passed since Gould and Lewontin published their critique of ‘the adaptationist program’ – the tendency of some evolutionary biologists to assume, rather than demonstrate, the operation of natural selection. After the ‘Spandrels paper’, evolutionists were more careful about producing just-so stories based on selection, and paid more attention to a panoply of other processes. Then came reactions against the excesses of the anti-adaptationist movement, which ranged from a complete dismissal of Gould and Lewontin’s contribution to a positive (...)
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  148. Massimo Pigliucci (1998). Developmental Phenotypic Plasticity: Where Internal Programming Meets the External Environment. Current Biology 1:87-91.
    Developmental plasticity as the nexus between genetics and ecology.
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  149. Massimo Pigliucci (1998). Plasticity Genes: What Are They, and Why Should We Care? In H. Greppin, R. Degli Agosti & C. Penel (eds.), The Co-Action Between Living Systems and the Planet. University of Geneva.
    A critical examination of the dispute about the existence and significance of "plasticity genes.".
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  150. Massimo Pigliucci (1998). Science, Religion, and All That Jazz. [REVIEW] BioScience 48 (5):406-407.
    An historian takes a close look at the infamous Scopes trial and its aftermath.
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  151. Carl Schlichting & Massimo Pigliucci (1998). Phenotypic Evolution: A Reaction Norm Perspective. Sinauer.
    Phenotypic Evolution explicitly recognizes organisms as complex genetic-epigenetic systems developing in response to changing internal and external environments. As a key to a better understanding of how phenotypes evolve, the authors have developed a framework that centers on the concept of the Developmental Reaction Norm. This encompasses their views: (1) that organisms are better considered as integrated units than as disconnected parts (allometry and phenotypic integration); (2) that an understanding of ontogeny is vital for evaluating evolution of adult forms (ontogenetic (...)
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  152. Hilary Callahan, Massimo Pigliucci & Carl Schlichting (1997). Developmental Phenotypic Plasticity: Where Ecology and Evolution Meet Molecular Biology. Bioessays 19 (6):519-525.
    An exploration of the nexus between ecology, evolutionary biology and molecular biology, via the concept of phenotypic plasticity.
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  153. Massimo Pigliucci (1997). Butterflies in the Spotlight. Bioessays 19 (4):285-286.
    Commentary on research on butterflies' eyespots as a model in evolutionary developmental biology.
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  154. Massimo Pigliucci & Carl D. Schlichting (1997). On the Limits of Quantitative Genetics for the Study of Phenotypic Evolution. Acta Biotheoretica 45 (2):143-160.
    During the last two decades the role of quantitative genetics in evolutionary theory has expanded considerably. Quantitative genetic-based models addressing long term phenotypic evolution, evolution in multiple environments (phenotypic plasticity) and evolution of ontogenies (developmental trajectories) have been proposed. Yet, the mathematical foundations of quantitative genetics were laid with a very different set of problems in mind (mostly the prediction of short term responses to artificial selection), and at a time in which any details of the genetic machinery were virtually (...)
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  155. Massimo Pigliucci (1996). How Organisms Respond to Environmental Changes: From Phenotypes to Molecules (and Vice Versa). Trends in Ecology and Evolution 11 (4):168-173.
    The concept of reaction norms plays a crucial role in connecting molecular and evolutionary biology.
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  156. Massimo Pigliucci, Carl Schlichting, Cynthia Jones & Kurt Schwenk (1996). Developmental Reaction Norms: The Interactions Among Allometry, Ontogeny and Plasticity. Plant Species Biology 11:69-85.
    The concept of Developmental Norm of Reaction is explored as a nexus between allometry, ontogeny, and phenotypic plasticity.
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  157. Carl Schlichting & Massimo Pigliucci (1995). Gene Regulation, Quantitative Genetics and the Evolution of Reaction Norms. Evolutionary Ecology 9:154-168.
    A discussion of plasticity genes and the genetic architecture of gene-environment interactions.
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  158. Carl Schlichting & Massimo Pigliucci (1993). Control of Phenotypic Plasticity Via Regulatory Genes. American Naturalist 142 (2):366-370.
    A response to Via about the existence (or not) and role of plasticity genes in evolution.
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