Massimo Pigliucci

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Massimo Pigliucci (1964–) is an Italian American biologist turned philosopher, formerly specializing in ecology and evolution and currently holding a post as a philosopher of biology at the City University of New York, Lehman College.[1] He was born in Monrovia, Liberia, raised in Rome, and eventually emigrated to the United States.

Rationally Speaking/Scientia Salon[edit]

Pigliucci wrote a long-running column for the Skeptical Inquirer called "Rationally Speaking". His columns there now go under the name of "Thinking About Science". The column spawned a spin-off blog and a podcast of the same name, which he hosts along with Julia Galef. As of 2014 the Rationally Speaking blog was discontinued (although the archives remain available and the podcast continues) in favor of Pigliucci's new project, Scientia Salon. Scientia Salon, an online magazine edited by Pigliucci, publishes articles by him and other scholars on a wide range of issues, though there is a concentration on science and philosophy.

Evolutionary theory and creationism[edit]

Debating creationists[edit]

Pigliucci has laid the smackdown on a number of prominent creationists, including Duane Gish (a total of five times!),[2] Jonathan Wells,[3] and Kent Hovind.[4] However, he also charges some defenders of evolution with scientism, putting partial blame on them for the denial of evolution due to their smuggling philosophy into science.[5]

Extended Synthesis and Pigliucci's view of evolution[edit]

Pigliucci is a proponent of approaches to evolutionary theory that have come to be known as the "Extended Synthesis," which he distinguishes as being not a replacement of the "Modern Synthesis," but merely a modification (albeit a rather major one) to it. The Extended Synthesis seeks to incorporate new findings from fields such as evolutionary-developmental biology and epigenetics.[6] The concept of the Extended Synthesis has generated some controversy in the field of evolutionary biology -- its critics include some well-known scientists such as Richard Dawkins and Douglas Futuyma. Critics generally contend that the current Modern Synthesis can accommodate this new research without modification or that some phenomena, such as epigenetic inheritance, are transient enough not to have a large impact on evolutionary theory.[7]

Debating atheists[edit]

Pigliucci has been critical of "New Atheists" including Richard Dawkins, Jerry Coyne, and Sam Harris on a number of topics.[8] He has variously accused them of mixing atheism with scientism.[9] Specifically, he has criticized Dawkins' concepts of the "selfish gene" and memes,[10] Harris' claims about science and morality in The Moral Landscape,[11] and Coyne's arguments against free will.[12]


  • Phenotypic Evolution (with Carl Schlichting) (1998)
  • Tales of the Rational (2000)
  • Phenotypic Plasticity (2001)
  • Denying Evolution: Creationism, Scientism, and the Nature of Science (2002)
  • Phenotypic Integration (2003)
  • Making Sense of Evolution (with Jonathan Kaplan) (2006)
  • Rationally Speaking: Skeptical Essays on Reality as We Think We Know It (2009) ISBN 9781689600729
  • Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk (2010) ISBN 9780226667850
  • Evolution: The Extended Synthesis (editor, with Gerd B. Muller) (2010)
  • Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to A More Meaningful Life (2012) ISBN ‎978-0465021383
  • Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem (editor, with Maarten Boudry) (2013)

See also[edit]

External links[edit]