Does it matter whether you or your brain did it? An empirical investigation of the influence of the double subject fallacy on moral responsibility judgments

Uri Maoz, Kellienne R. Sita, Jeroen J. A. van Boxtel, Liad Mudrik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Despite progress in cognitive neuroscience, we are still far from understanding the relations between the brain and the conscious self. We previously suggested that some neuroscientific texts that attempt to clarify these relations may in fact make them more difficult to understand. Such texts-ranging from popular science to high-impact scientific publications-position the brain and the conscious self as two independent, interacting subjects, capable of possessing opposite psychological states. We termed such writing 'Double Subject Fallacy' (DSF). We further suggested that such DSF language, besides being conceptually confusing and reflecting dualistic intuitions, might affect people's conceptions of moral responsibility, lessening the perception of guilt over actions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number950
Number of pages11
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2019


  • "my brain made me do it"
  • Closet dualism
  • Conceptual confusions in neuroscience
  • Moral responsibility
  • Moral scenarios

Cite this