Massimo Pigliucci CUNY Graduate Center
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  • Faculty, CUNY Graduate Center
  • 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
67 items found.
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  1. Maarten Boudry, Fabio Paglieri & Massimo Pigliucci (2015). The Fake, the Flimsy, and the Fallacious: Demarcating Arguments in Real Life. Argumentation 2015 (4):10.1007/s10503-015-9359-1.
    Philosophers of science have given up on the quest for a silver bullet to put an end to all pseudoscience, as such a neat formal criterion to separate good science from its contenders has proven elusive. In the literature on critical thinking and in some philosophical quarters, however, this search for silver bullets lives on in the taxonomies of fallacies. The attractive idea is to have a handy list of abstract definitions or argumentation schemes, on the basis of which one (...)
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  2. Jonathan Kaplan, Massimo Pigliucci & Joshua Banta (2015). Gould on Morton, Redux: What Can the Debate Reveal About the Limits of Data? Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 52:22-31.
    Lewis et al. (2011) attempted to restore the reputation of Samuel George Morton, a 19th century physician who reported on the skull sizes of different folk-races. Whereas Gould (1978) claimed that Morton’s conclusions were invalid because they reflected unconscious bias, Lewis et al. alleged that Morton’s findings were, in fact, supported, and Gould’s analysis biased. We take strong exception to Lewis et al.’s thesis that Morton was “right.” We maintain that Gould was right to reject Morton’s analysis as inappropriate and (...)
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  3. Massimo Pigliucci (2015). Dying (Every Day) with Dignity: Lessons From Stoicism. The Human Prospect 5 (1).
    Stoicism is an ancient Greco-Roman practical philosophy focused on the ethics of everyday living. It is a eudaemonistic (i.e., emphasizing one’s flourishing) approach to life, as well as a type of virtue ethics (i.e., concerned with the practice of virtues as central to one’s existence). This paper summarizes the basic tenets of Stoicism and discusses how it tackles the issues of death and suicide. It presents a number of exercises that modern Stoics practice in order to prepare for death (one’s (...)
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  4.  51
    Massimo Pigliucci (2015). Scientism and Pseudoscience: A Philosophical Commentary. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 12 (4):569-575.
    The term “scientism” is used in a variety of ways with both negative and positive connotations. I suggest that some of these uses are inappropriate, as they aim simply at dismissing without argument an approach that a particular author does not like. However, there are legitimate negative uses of the term, which I explore by way of an analogy with the term “pseudoscience.” I discuss these issues by way of a recent specific example provided by a controversy in the field (...)
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  5.  4
    Massimo Pigliucci & Raphael Scholl (2015). The Proximate–Ultimate Distinction and Evolutionary Developmental Biology: Causal Irrelevance Versus Explanatory Abstraction. Biology and Philosophy 30 (5):653-670.
    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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  6. Maarten Boudry, Stefaan Blancke & Massimo Pigliucci (2014). What Makes Weird Beliefs Thrive? The Epidemiology of Pseudoscience. Philosophical Psychology 28 (8):1177-1198.
    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 gain (...)
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  7. 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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  8. 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 Singularity event.
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  9. 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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  10. 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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  11. Raphael Scholl & Massimo Pigliucci (2014). The Proximate–Ultimate Distinction and Evolutionary Developmental Biology: Causal Irrelevance Versus Explanatory Abstraction. Biology and Philosophy 2014 (5):DOI: 10.1007/s10539-014-9427-1.
    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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  12. 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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  13. 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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  14. Massimo Pigliucci (2013). Between Holism and Reductionism: A Philosophical Primer on Emergence. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 112 (2):261-267.
    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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  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 the Different Ways of ‘‘Doing Theory’’ in Biology‘. Biological Theory 7 (4): 287-297.
    ‘‘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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  17. 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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  18. 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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  19. 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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  20. 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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  21. 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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  22.  42
    Massimo Pigliucci & Maarten Boudry (eds.) (2013). Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem. University of Chicago Press.
    What sets the practice of rigorously tested, sound science apart from pseudoscience? In this volume, the contributors seek to answer this question, known to philosophers of science as “the demarcation problem.” This issue has a long history in philosophy, stretching as far back as the early twentieth century and the work of Karl Popper. But by the late 1980s, scholars in the field began to treat the demarcation problem as impossible to solve and futile to ponder. However, the essays that (...)
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  23. Massimo Pigliucci & Maarten Boudry (2013). Why the Demarcation Problem Matters. In Massimo Pigliucci & Maarten Boudry (eds.), 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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  24.  48
    Massimo Pigliucci, Kim Sterelny & Werner Callebaut (2013). The Meaning of “Theory” in Biology. Biological Theory 7 (4):285-286.
    The articles in this issue reflect the results of the 25th Altenberg Workshop in Theoretical Biology on ‘‘The Meaning of ‘Theory’ in Biology’’ held at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research, Altenberg, Austria, 30 June–3 July, 2011.
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  25. 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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  26. 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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  27. 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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  28. Massimo Pigliucci (2012). Nonsense on Stilts About Science: Field Adventures of a Scientist- Philosopher. In J. Goodwin (ed.), Between Scientists and Citizens. CreateSpace
    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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  29. Gerd Muller & Massimo Pigliucci (2011). Extended Synthesis: Theory Expansion or Alternative? Biological Theory 5 (3):275-276.
    A response to Lindsay Craig's essay, The So-Called Extended Synthesis and Population Genetics.
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  30. 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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  31. 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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  32. 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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  33.  66
    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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  34. Massimo Pigliucci & Gerd Müller (eds.) (2010). Evolution: The Modern Synthesis The Definitive Edition Edition. MIT Press.
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  35. Massimo Pigliucci & Gerd Müller (2010). Foreword to Julian Huxley's "Evolution: The Modern Synthesis". In Massimo Pigliucci & Gerd Müller (eds.), Evolution: The Modern Synthesis The Definitive Edition Edition. MIT Press 1-8.
    A new conceptual essay introducing one of the classics of the evolutionary biological literature.
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  36.  5
    Massimo Pigliucci & Gerd Müller (2010). Lindsay Craig—The So-Called Extended Synthesis and Population Genetics. Biological Theory 5 (3):275-276.
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  37. Massimo Pigliucci (2009). Down with Natural Selection? [REVIEW] 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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  38. 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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  39.  70
    Massimo Pigliucci (2009). 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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    Massimo Pigliucci (2009). Review - What Should I Believe? [REVIEW] Metapsychology 2009.
    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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  41. 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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  42. 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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  43. 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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  44. 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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  45. 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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  46. 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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  47. 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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  48. 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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  49. 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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  50. 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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  51.  29
    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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  52. 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.
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  53.  24
    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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  54.  14
    Massimo Pigliucci (2003). Dangerous Habits: Examining the Philosophical Baggage of Biological Research. Dissertation, The University of Tennessee
    Science is about conceptualizing the natural world in a way that can be understood by human beings while at the same time reflecting as much as possible what we can empirically infer about how the world actually is. Among the crucial tools that allow scientists to formulate hypotheses and to contribute to a progressive understanding of nature are the use of imagery and metaphors, on the one hand, and the ability to assume certain starting points on which to build new (...)
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  55. 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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  56. 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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  57. 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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  58. 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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  59. Jonathan Michael Kaplan & Massimo Pigliucci (2001). Genes `For' Phenotypes: A Modern History View. 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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  60. 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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  61.  62
    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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  62.  80
    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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  63. 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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  64.  84
    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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  65.  79
    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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  66. 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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  67.  92
    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.
    How micro- and macroevolutionary evolutionary processes produce phenotypic change is without question one of the most intriguing and perplexing issues facing evolutionary biologists. We believe that roadblocks to progress lie A) in the underestimation of the role of the environment, and in particular, that of the interaction of genotypes with environmental factors, and B) in the continuing lack of incorporation of development into the evolutionary synthesis. We propose the integration of genetic, environmental and developmental perspectives on the evolution of the (...)
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