Madison Collaborative

Human Morality; Features and Bugs

Thu, 7 Apr 2016 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Festival Center Ballroom B/C

About JoshuaJoin us to hear Joshua Greene, Harvard psychology professor, for an intriguing overview of human morality, drawing on insights from psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy. First, there are two general kinds of moral problems: The original moral problem is the problem of cooperation, the “Tragedy of the Commons”—Me vs. Us. Distinctively modern moral problems are different. They involve what Dr. Greene calls the “Tragedy of Commonsense Morality,” which is about conflicting values and interests across social groups—Us vs. Them.  Second, there two general kinds of moral thinking: “fast” intuitive thinking that is efficient but inflexible, and “slow” moral reasoning that is flexible but inefficient. He will present evidence that "fast" thinking is good for solving basic moral problems, but that solving modern moral problems requires “slow” thinking. He will talk about how our emerging scientific understanding of human morality can help us make better decisions.

Joshua Greene is an experimental psychologist, neuroscientist, and philosopher. He studies moral judgment and decision-making, primarily using behavioral experiments and functional neuroimaging (fMRI). Other interests include religion, cooperation, and the capacity for complex thought. He is the author of Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them. In 2012, he was awarded the Stanton Prize by the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, and in 2013 he received Harvard’s Roslyn Abramson Award for teaching. Greene studied philosophy at Harvard (A.B., 1997) and Princeton (Ph.D., 2002), where he worked with David Lewis and Gilbert Harman. From 2002 to 2006 he trained as a postdoctoral researcher with Jonathan Cohen in the Neuroscience of Cognitive Control Lab and at the Center for the Study of Brain, Mind, and Behavior, which is now the Princeton Neuroscience Institute.

If you have questions, call Larry Burton, Director, the Cohen Center (540-568-4090) or

The event is co-sponsored by the Cohen Center for Technological Humanism and the Madison Collaborative: Ethical Reasoning in Action

Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them

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