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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 96, Issue 2, Spring 2022

Contemporary Thomistic Psychology

Alina Beary
Pages 317-344

Dual Process Theory: A Philosophical Review

From experience, we know that some cognitive processes are effortless and automatic (or nearly automatic), while others are hard and deliberate. Dual process (DP) accounts of human cognition explain these differences by positing two qualitatively distinct types of cognitive processes within the human mind—types that cannot be reduced to each other. Because DP constructs are bound to show up in discourse on human cognition, decision-making, morality, and character formation, moral philosophers should take DP accounts seriously. Here, I provide an overview of the current state of DP accounts—their basic tenets, major concepts, and the various models of the DP framework—and note some of its more salient criticisms from the psychological research community. Finally, I show that DP accounts’ commitment to a real qualitative distinction between rational and non-rational human behavior puts them at odds with a Thomistic/Aristotelian view of practical rationality.