How to behave virtuously in an irrational world

Massimo Pigliucci
City University of New York, United States | MPigliucci@ccny.cuny.edu

Received: 13-April-2019 | Accepted: 10-June-2019 | Published Online: 24-November-2019
Disputatio [Dec. 2019], Vol. 9, No. 13, pp. 00-00 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3567251
Article | [EN] | Full Text | Statistics | Copyright Notice [sp] | Vol. 9 No. 13

How to cite this article:
Pigliucci, Massimo (2020). «How to behave virtuously in an irrational world». Disputatio. Philosophical Research Bulletin 9, no. 13: pp. 00–00.


Abstract | It is no secret that we inhabit an increasingly irrational world, plagued by rampant pseudoscience, science denialism, post-truths and fake news. Or perhaps, human nature being what it is, we have always lived in such a world and we are now simply more keenly aware of it because of easy and widespread access to social media. Moreover, the stakes are higher, as pseudoscience in the form of the anti-vax movement imperils the lives of many, while climate change denialism literally risks a collapse of the human ecosystem. So how do we deal with the problem? How do we talk to otherwise perfectly reasonable and functional people who nevertheless espouse all sorts of nonsense — and vote accordingly? In this paper I will explore a couple of real life conversations among many that I have had with believers in pseudoscience, and then present and discuss virtue epistemology as one approach to ameliorate the problem. No silver bullets are available, unfortunately, but it is our intellectual and moral duty to keep, as Carl Sagan famously put it, the candle of reason lit even when surrounded by the darkness of unreason.
Keywords |
Pseudoscience · Science Denialism · Aristotle’s Rhetoric · Virtue Epistemology.

Cómo comportarse de forma virtuosa en un mundo irracional

Resumen | No es ningún secreto que habitamos en un mundo cada vez más irracional, plagado de pseudociencia desenfrenada, negacionismo de la ciencia, posverdad y noticias falsas. O tal vez, siendo la naturaleza humana la que es, siempre hemos vivido en un mundo así y ahora simplemente somos más conscientes de ello debido al acceso sencillo y generalizado a las redes sociales. Además, los riesgos son cada vez mayores, dado que la pseudociencia en forma de movimiento antivacunas pone en riesgo muchas vidas, mientras que el negacionismo del cambio climático literalmente amenaza con el colapso del ecosistema humano. ¿Cómo lidiar con el problema? ¿Cómo hablar con personas que defienden todo tipo de sinsentidos (y votan en consecuencia) y que, sin embargo, son perfectamente razonables y funcionales en otros ámbitos? En este artículo exploraré un par de conversaciones reales, de las muchas que he tenido con creyentes en pseudociencia, y luego presentaré y discutiré la epistemología de la virtud como un enfoque para paliar el problema. Desafortunadamente, no hay balas de plata a nuestra disposición, pero es nuestro deber intelectual y moral mantener, como dijo Carl Sagan, la vela de la razón encendida, incluso cuando está rodeada por la oscuridad de la sinrazón.
Palabras Clave | Pseudociencia · Negacionismo de la ciencia · Retórica aristotélica · Epistemología de la virtud.


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