Paul Kurtz Memorial Lectures

Anjan Chakravartty

Two Projects for Secular Humanism

October 18, 2018

Thursday, 4:00 p.m., 107 O'Brian Hall, UB North Campus

Anjan Chakravartty, Paul Kurtz Memorial Lecture 2018.

Anjan Chakravartty

Anjan Chakravartty is Chair of the Appignani Foundation for the Study of Atheism, Humanism, and Secular Ethics. The mandate of the position is to explore ‘a philosophical approach that emphasizes the methods and techniques of science, logic, and reason in dealing with questions of knowledge, ethics, politics, and social policy'.

Chakravartty's research focuses on central issues in the philosophy of science (the metaphysics and epistemology of science), including topics in the philosophy of physics and biology. Much of this work revolves around debates concerning scientific realism (such as versions of entity realism and structural realism) and antirealism (especially some versions of empiricism), as well as the nature of dispositions, causation, laws of nature, and natural kinds. I have worked on scientific modeling, representation, and attendant issues such as the nature of abstraction and idealization, and the consequences these practices have for concepts such as knowledge and truth, as well as the relationship between science, metaphysics, and the philosophy of science.
Learn more.

Massimo Pigliucci, Paul Kurtz Memorial Lecture 2017

"Skepticism and Epistemic Virtue: Shouldn't skeptics know what they are talking about, when they are talking about it?"

Massimo Pigliucci.

Massimo Pigliucci

Short Bio:  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 biology, the relationship between science and philosophy, the nature of pseudoscience, and the practical philosophy of Stoicism.

Prof. Pigliucci has been elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science “for fundamental studies of genotype by environmental interactions and for public defense of evolutionary biology from pseudoscientific attack.”

In the area of public outreach, Prof. Pigliucci has published in national and international outlets such as the New York Times, Philosophy Now and The Philosopher’s Magazine, among others. He is a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and a Contributing Editor to Skeptical Inquirer. Pigliucci publishes two blogs: Plato’s Footnote (, on general philosophy, and How to Be a Stoic (, on his personal exploration of Stoicism as practical philosophy.

At last count, Prof. Pigliucci has published 146 technical papers in science and philosophy. He is also the author or editor of 10 technical and public outreach books, most recently of Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem (University of Chicago Press), co-edited with Maarten Boudry. Other books include Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to a More Meaningful Life (Basic Books) and Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk (University of Chicago Press).

Fall 2018.

Philip Stuart Kitcher, Paul Kurtz Memorial Lecture 2015

Pragmatism and Progress

Philip Stuart Kitcher.

Philip Stuart Kitcher

Speaker: Philip Stuart Kitcher of Columbia University specialises in the philosophy of science, the philosophy of biology, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of literature, and, more recently, pragmatism. Kitcher is best known outside academia for his work examining creationism and sociobiology. His works attempt to connect the questions raised in philosophy of biology and philosophy of mathematics with the central philosophical issues of epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics. He has also published papers on John Stuart Mill, Kant and other figures in the history of philosophy. Lately he has become interested in John Dewey and a pragmatic approach to philosophical issues. He sees pragmatism as providing a unifying and reconstructive approach to traditional philosophy issues. He also recently published a book outlining a naturalistic approach to ethics, The Ethical Project (Harvard University Press, 2011).


Kitcher's three criteria for good science: Independent testability of auxiliary hypotheses; Unification; Fecundity.

PRAGMATISM AND PROGRESS - Paul Kurtz Memorial Lecture, April 15, 2015.