Joshua Greene Associate Professor of PsychologyHarvard University
Joshua Greene is a philosopher, experimental psychologist, and neuroscientist who studies the neurological underpinnings of moral judgment. His work seeks to understand how our moral judgments are shaped by automatic processes (e.g. emotional gut reactions) and controlled cognitive processes (e.g. reasoning). He is perhaps best known for his application of neuroscience to the infamous "trolley problem," revealing the different parts of the brain that are involved in making difficult moral choices. He feels that common sense solutions often hurt more than help, saying, "[serious social] problems are a product of well-intentioned people abiding by their respective common senses and that the only long-run solution to these problems is for people to develop a healthy distrust of moral common sense. This is largely because our social instincts were not designed for the modern world. Nor, for that matter, were they designed to promote peace and happiness in the world for which they were designed, the world of our hunter-gatherer ancestors." He is the director of the acclaimed Moral Cognition Lab at Harvard.
Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap between Us and Them (coming fall 2013)