Author Archives: Massimo

About Massimo

Massimo is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. He blogs at and He is the author of How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life.

Plato’s suggestions: New Year’s edition!

readingsOur regular Friday diet of suggested readings for the weekend:

What is the point of scientific journalism? That’s the question asked by a thoughtful piece by Brooke Borel at The Guardian. Science journalists are not just cheerleaders for science, and investigating a scientist’s conflicts of interest ought to be part of the job.

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Should Academics Stay Out of Political Activism?

ivory towerThat’s the question I tackled in a recent essay at The Philosophers’ Magazine online, prompted by a conversation over coffee with Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at NYU with whom I’ve had a number of disagreements about the intersection of social science, politics, and philosophy.

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Relax, your utilitarian friends are not psychopaths

trolley problemAs I’ve written recently over at The Philosopher Magazine’s Online, rumors of widespread psychopathy among utilitarians are overrated. Indeed, they appear to be entirely unfounded, an artifact of not-so-carefully thought out social psychology experiments on “trolley-type” dilemmas. And the whole story ought to be a cautionary tale about research in moral psychology in general, especially when done by psychologists who know little about moral philosophy.

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Are races “real”?

human racesFrom time to time I write about the ever delicate, and seemingly never exhausted, issue of race. For instance, this year I published a paper on the famous Morton skulls controversy, co-authored with Jonathan Kaplan and Joshua Banta (a Plato Footnote summary is here). Back in 2013 I co-wrote a paper with my friend Guido Barbujani on races from a biological perspective, and in the same year I published a solo paper on the same topic from the combined point of view of a philosopher and a scientist. Way back in ’03 Jonathan and I wrote a piece for Philosophy of Science on the applicability to humans of the biological concept of race.

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The value (or lack thereof) of a liberal arts education

liberal artsDan Kaufman (see his webzine, the Electric Agora) and I had another of our conversations over at, this time centering on Dan’s recently articulated skepticism about ongoing defenses of the concept of a liberal arts education in college. Here is his original article, provocatively entitled “On Some Common Rationales for Liberal Education (and why they aren’t very good).”

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