O noes! I iz primitiv filosofur

Srsly.  Big LOLz on Facebook about the work of philosopher Maarten Boudry and his colleagues:

The Great Decider apparently deleted the dissenting comments.

Methodological naturalism: ur doing it RONG


  1. Anonym
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Ask Pigliucci if he still believes wild turkeys can’t fly — one of his gaffs when he was just a one-type (Bio) PhD.

    • Screechy Monkey
      Posted October 26, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      Arthur Carlson made the same mistake.

      • Screechy Monkey
        Posted October 26, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        Oops, I mean, the *opposite* mistake.

        • Diane G.
          Posted October 26, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

          Why is the opposite a mistake?

          • Marella
            Posted October 26, 2010 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

            Thinking that domesticated turkey’s can fly?

            • Diane G.
              Posted October 26, 2010 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

              Oops–wasn’t going far enough with “opposite.” (I.e., thinking the opposite was ‘wild turkeys can fly…’) My bad.

              Guess it’s hard to believe anyone would think domestic turkeys can do anything. 😀

  2. jdhuey
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    So, that means you have the right answer and you expressed it in a simple clear direct manner without the superfluous verbiage and obfuscation that philosophers typically use. Your philosophy is primitive but elegant.

    • MJ
      Posted October 26, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

      Um… so you’re a philosopher and you know how philosophers “typically” express themselves? Or are you a creationist and are just making things up to fit your preconceived opinions?

    • Posted October 26, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      Consider this sentence:

      “So that means you have the right answer and you expressed it in a simple clear direct manner without the superfluous verbiage and obfuscation that biologists typically use. Your creationist biology is primitive but elegant.”

  3. Somite
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    I generally like Massimo and philosophy but these whiny attacks are uncalled for. I had the following exchange with Massimo on



    • Tulse
      Posted October 26, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      They’re not just uncalled for, they’re undignified — this very public sniping does not put Pigliucci in a great light.

      • Posted October 26, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, it seems pretty strange.

  4. yesmyliege
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Chicagoensis stridens?

  5. Posted October 26, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Dr. Dr. Dr. Pigliucci, PhD, PhD, PhD, is an unpleasant and rude fellow, to say the very least. Ugh.

    • Dominic
      Posted October 26, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      Why three doctors?…[one Wikipedia enty later] Oh, I see! I don’t like people.

      • Dominic
        Posted October 26, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        er, RUDE people – sorry sorry sorry!

    • Sili
      Posted October 26, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      an unpleasant and rude fellow

      Just like the New Atheists?

  6. Kevin
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    I opined on this before, but it’s my contention that most people conflate “sophisticated” with “unintelligible”.

    Dr Dr Dr Pigluicci appears to be among them.

  7. Dominic
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Bad news – Paul the Octopus has died!


  8. Diane G.
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    This line of disparagement sounds more and more like “you don’t understand the nuances of sophisticated theology” all the time.

  9. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    ‘Sophisticated’ has the modern meaning of:
    1) Having or appealing to those having worldly knowledge and refinement and savoir-faire
    2)Ahead in development; complex or intricate
    3)Intellectually appealing

    Whereas ‘Sophistry’ has the modern meaning of:
    1)A deliberately invalid argument displaying ingenuity in reasoning in the hope of deceiving someone

    In my sour opinion, too many philosophers (or theologians) think they are proposing complex or intricate ideas when they are merely displaying ingenuity of reasoning.

    At least with ‘primitive’ philosophy you can see the main threads of the argument without degenerating into exquisitely detailed arguments about the meaning of a single word.


    • Posted October 26, 2010 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      Is sophistry (sensu moderno) always deliberate? When someone fools themself with a clever but fallacious argument, is that not also sophistry?

      • DiscoveredJoys
        Posted October 27, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

        I think sophistry is generally deliberate (although I guess the reasons will vary).

        However there are plenty of people who get ‘carried away’ by their own cleverness – a better word for these might be deluded.

  10. Saikat Biswas
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Dr Pigliucci, do you unquestioningly accept all of Pieuret’s opinions?

    • Matt Penfold
      Posted October 27, 2010 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      Well that would be kind of fair since Pieret#s opinions seemed to be arrived at without thinking.

  11. Saikat Biswas
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Correction …. ‘Pieret’s’

  12. Sven DiMilo
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    I’m curious about MP’s move from biologist at Stony Brook to philosopher in the Bronx. Was it voluntary and amicable?

    • Posted October 26, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      The Bronx? I thought he was at NYU – that’s in the Village.

      • Josh Slocum
        Posted October 26, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        Actually, I think he’s at the City University of New York (CUNY).

      • Sven DiMilo
        Posted October 27, 2010 at 9:05 am | Permalink

        He’s now the chair of the Department of Philosophy at CUNY-Lehman College.
        Da Bronx.

  13. Alex SL
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Oh seriously? “Coyne is too clear and lucid for philosophy” is supposed to be an impressive argument? After all, it might well be that we are wrong and missing something (including myself here because I agree with JC)! We could just as well imagine a discussion between a creationist and an evolutionary biologist:

    Creo: If evolution is true, why are there no Fronkeys, half frog, half monkey?
    Evol: You are an ignoramus who does not know the first thing about evolution. Study biology for a few years, otherwise you are not entitled to an opinion.
    Creo: No, I am simply too clear and lucid to fall for your obfuscation.

    Is that convincing? No. But where did this imaginary discussion really go off the rails? Well, when the evolutionary biologist played the condescending argument from authority card instead of presenting any friggin’ argument whatsoever, instead of explaining why Fronkeys do not exist.

    And THAT is the problem here: Perhaps MP’s take is right, but arguments for his position are a complete no-show when he just snipes that you have to shut up because you are an ignoramus. Not that he considers the topic complicated, but that he never explains in which way it is, in fact, complicated.

    After all, the beginning of this kerfuffle was only JC’s claim that a philosophically consistent scientist should eschew superstition, to cite a recent reiteration, and while you can treat the use of the term philosophical by any non-philosopher as your berserk button, that does not seem like a particularly contentious claim that needs a good grounding in years of study of epistemology, logic and the history of science. It is, on its own, not even a claim that the supernatural does not exist. It is simply the equivalent of saying that a fire fighter should not go around firebombing random houses if he wants to be philosophically consistent with his chosen profession. Maybe (from some weird perspective) some houses need firebombing; maybe fire fighting is a misguided endeavour to start with; but you cannot consistently do both at a time. That’s all.

    • J.J.E.
      Posted October 26, 2010 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      I basically agree. Many comments here supporting Jerry seem to be of the “cheering from the choir” variety, which I find mostly to be distasteful ass-kissing. But such is the internet. I find Jerry’s position to attractive and MP’s definitions underlying his own position to be question-begging, but I’d prefer to see discussion/dissection of the merits/flaws of both sides rather than simple reiterations of the positions by some members of an unruly choir.

      • Posted October 27, 2010 at 6:02 am | Permalink

        I guess what bothers me — besides his flippant criticism of Dr. Coyne — is that Dr.^3 Pigliucci doesn’t share the benefits of his large brain and extreme education with the rest of us to explain what he thinks is a more philosphically sound approach. If he’s going to be a public spokesperson for his field(s), he needs to occasionally explain things to us lesser mortals.

        If he did, many of us might go, “Oh, now I understand better what you meant, and I think you’re probably right”, instead of the current chorus of “You rude bastardo!”

    • Posted October 27, 2010 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      On the other hand, MP’s Facebook jibe was not exactly a detailed argument either. It was a jibe.

      • Alex SL
        Posted October 27, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

        Em… yes. That was my point – we should criticize him for not making his case instead of implying that all of modern philosophy is nothing more than obfuscating language.

        • Posted October 27, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

          I know – I was responding to JJE. Didn’t thread properly, sry.

      • J.J.E.
        Posted October 27, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, I suppose Dr^3 MP’s jibe merits no serious response. But given that Jerry brought it up, it couldn’t hurt to provide one. After all, Dr^3 MP’s argument isn’t all that sophisticated to begin with. It comes down to smuggling in the initial point in his definitions. His god is by his own definition “supernatural” in a sense that defies empiricism. I get the impression that any other entity that was empirically tractable wouldn’t be called god by MP even if many people called such entities “god”. He waves about the figleaf of “well, specific event associated with god can be studied empirically, but god(s) are immune”.

  14. Peter Beattie
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    There goes another vacuous and arrogant philosopher who needs to be reminded that he is being a fucking jerk more often.

    • Posted October 27, 2010 at 12:34 am | Permalink

      These “New Philosophers” are hurting the cause of philosophy.

      • Kevin
        Posted October 27, 2010 at 7:28 am | Permalink


        Sorry, I never do that, but you did make me laugh out loud.

        I think we have a new meme.

  15. Explict Atheist
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Pigliucci’s arguments, yet I don’t agree with his conclusion that Jerry Coyne is mistaken based on those arguments. Pigliucci’s arguments in totality appear to fail to overturn Jerry Coyne’s assertion that “anybody doing any kind of science should abandon his or her faith if they wish to become a philosophically consistent scientist” because Pigliucci’s arguments dance around the basis for that assertion by raising peripheral and mis-targeted complications.

  16. Posted October 26, 2010 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    Yes to Boudry! I find that indeed that should theologians ever proffer evidence for coherent, noncontradictory attributes and evidence for the refereants for God , then as he notes,in effect, they must perforce overcome the presumption of naturalism and the ignostic-Ockham challenge!

  17. bad Jim
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    There ought to be a specific term for the insistence that every critic of religion must repeat the most sophisticated refutation of religious claims. Does every scientific paper needs to begin with a detailed discussion of Aristotle? Even Galileo barely bothered to engage his reasoning, preferring instead to point out that he was wrong.

    Isn’t it just philosophers guarding their turf?

  18. Posted October 27, 2010 at 4:00 am | Permalink

    I am quite surprised and impressed by Jerry’s proficiency in LOLspeak. Does he pick it up from browsing icanhazcheeseburger.com or from grading undergrade papers?

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