In this interview, we talk with Dr. Pigliucci about how Stoicism differs from a more rationalist mindset and how Stoicism relates the skepticism. We cover topics in some of his recent articles about skepticism and how the ancient skeptics can inform modern dialogue. Here are some of the questions and topics we discussed:
Would you provide a summary of Stoic philosophy and how it contrasts say with other “isms”.
- I’d like to explore your ideas starting with your recent article on rationality. The central claim you make is this: logic, rationality, and truth are distinct. One can be logical (claim is based on a valid argument), rational (claim aligns to ones background beliefs and values) and yet the conclusion of the argument can be false. You offer a path forward in the article. Would you summarize your recommendation?
- You talk about “right reason” and “wrong reason” and use the conversation about creationism as an example. You say, “… I think my rejection of creationism is right reason while its embrace is bad reason.” You qualify the phrase with “I think.” It’s a claim about your beliefs rather than about the truth or falsity of whether your reasoning is correct. Is that the best we can hope for?
Skepticism tends to have a negative perception. You seem to take the edge off of that in your article about fallibilism by saying that fallibilism is “not the notion that all beliefs we currently hold, or will hold in the future, are false.” Rather, it’s the belief that, “All beliefs that are considered justified … should be held as provisionally true, nothing more.” Doesn’t this turn out to be more of a psychological attitude than an epistemic position?
Prof. Pigliucci has a PhD in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Connecticut and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Tennessee. He currently is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. His research interests include the philosophy of science, the nature of pseudoscience, and practical philosophies like Stoicism and New Skepticism.
Dr. Pigliucci will be speaking at the HowTheLightGetsIn festival alongside the river Wye in the famed book town of Hay in the United Kingdom. He’ll be speaking on topics related to the metaverse and on skepticism.
- Link to festival homepage
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Here’s a link to Massimo’s essays