Greene’s “dual-process theory” of moral decision-making posits that rationality and emotion are recruited according to the circumstances, with each offering its own advantages and disadvantages. He likens the moral brain to a camera that comes with manufactured presets, such as “portrait” or “landscape,” along with a manual mode that requires photographers to make adjustments on their own. Emotional responses, which are influenced by humans’ biological makeup and social experiences, are like the presets: fast and efficient, but also mindless and inflexible. Rationality is like manual mode: adaptable to all kinds of unique scenarios, but time-consuming and cumbersome.
“The nice thing about the overall design of the camera is that it gives you the best of both worlds: efficiency in point-and-shoot mechanisms and flexibility in manual mode,” Greene explains. “The trick is to know when to point and shoot and when to use manual mode. I think that this basic design is really the design of the human brain.”
— I was hoping the Atlantic actually did a piece on Joshua Greene. The Green/Cohen paper, For the law, neuroscience changes nothing and everything from 2004 is one of the most well known neurolaw papers out there. It definitely got me started in this area.