Why Alex Rosenberg — and a Number of Other Philosophers — Are Wrong Just about Everything

A Commentary on Scientistic Reductionism

Authors

  • Massimo Pigliucci City College of New York

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/jch.39457

Keywords:

Scientism, Neurobiology, Determinism, Reductionism

Abstract

There is a pernicious tendency these days among some philosophers to engage in a “nothing but” attitude about important questions. According to this attitude, consciousness, volition, reason, and morality are “illusions,” “nothing but” the epiphenomena of specific neural processes. Alex Rosenberg is a particularly good (though by no means the only) illustration of this problem, which is why his work is presented and analyzed in some detail in this contribution. The general attitude displayed by Rosenberg et al. falls squarely under the rubric of “scientism,” the notion that science (however vaguely and very broadly defined) is the only reliable source of knowledge and understanding, and that all other disciplines (especially the humanistic ones) ought to bow to its dictates. The results are, predictably, incoherent and pernicious, as it is illustrated here via a number of examples.

Author Biography

Massimo Pigliucci, City College of New York

Prof. Pigliucci has a PhD in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Connecticut and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Tennessee. He has done post-doctoral research in evolutionary ecology at Brown University and is currently K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at City College and Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His research interests include the philosophy of biology, the relationship between science and philosophy, and the nature of pseudoscience.

Prof. Pigliucci has been elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science "for fundamental studies of genotype by environmental interactions and for public defense of evolutionary biology from pseudoscientific attack."

In the area of public outreach, Prof. Pigliucci has published in national magazines such as Philosophy Now and The Philosopher's Magazine among others. He is a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and a Contributing Editor to Skeptical Inquirer. Pigliucci edits the Scientia Salon web magazine, and co-hosts the Rationally Speaking podcast.

Prof. Pigliucci has published over 135 technical papers in science and philosophy. He is also the author or editor of 10 technical and public outreach books, most recently of Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem (University of Chicago Press), co-edited with Maarten Boudry. Other books include Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to a More Meaningful Life (Basic Books) and Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk (University of Chicago Press).

More information can be found at platofootnote.org

References

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Published

2020-11-06

How to Cite

Pigliucci, M. (2020). Why Alex Rosenberg — and a Number of Other Philosophers — Are Wrong Just about Everything: A Commentary on Scientistic Reductionism. Journal of Cognitive Historiography, 5(1-2), 197–204. https://doi.org/10.1558/jch.39457

Issue

Section

Commentary