Morality and Contemporary Civilization: A Dual Process Approach

Morality and Contemporary Civilization: A Dual Process Approach

Hiroshi Yama (Osaka City University, Japan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1811-3.ch004


This chapter investigates if System 2 (analytic system) can revise or suppress the negative outputs of System 1 (intuitive system) by natural experiment in history. Two periods are picked up in this chapter: the 17th century when there was a decline in war, torture, cruel punishment, and religious persecution, and the time after World War II when there has been a decline in war, genocide, and violence with growing awareness of human rights. In short, the outputs associated with strong emotion are less likely to be revised, and an effective way for revision is to use a story to trigger the theory of mind in System 1. This is also discussed in the frame of distinction between deontic moral judgment and utilitarian moral judgment. Finally, it is proposed that a good story should be elaborated by System 2 and be prevailed so that it arises emotions (sympathy) of System 1 and drives people for the better-being future.
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Dual Process Theory: Rebellion, Coexistence, Or Servitude?

Table 1.
Features attributed to the two systems of cognition
System 1System 2
Evolutionarily oldEvolutionarily recent
Unconscious, preconsciousConscious
Implicit knowledgeExplicit knowledge
Low-capacity demandHigh-capacity demand
Connected to simple emotionConnected to complex emotion
Independent of general intelligenceLinked to general intelligence

Key Terms in this Chapter

Theory of Mind: The concept involved in theory of mind is an ability to predict mental states, which is used to understand and explain others’ acts.

Identifiable Victim Effect: This is the tendency of individuals to feel more sympathy and to offer greater aid to a specific, identifiable person than a large, vaguely defined group with the same need.

Dual Process Theory: This theory supposes that there is a distinction between an evolutionarily old heuristic system (intuitive mind) and an evolutionarily recent analytic system (analytical mind), and that the former supports processing that is implicit, automatic, fast, intuitive, contextual, and associative, whereas the latter supports processing that is explicit, controlled, slow, reflective, abstract, and rule-based.

Deontology/Utilitarianism: Deontology is a normative ethical theory concerning what is or should be the norm based on human duty, whereas utilitarianism is a consequentialist ethical theory promoting actions that maximize happiness and well-being for the majority of the population.

Noble Savage: The term “noble savage,” which originated in the 17 th century, refers to the idea that humans are essentially good, and that civilization, with its money, weapons, and so on, is the source of all evil.

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