Historical perspectives, as well as recent work in psychology, converge on the conclusion that human behavior is the product of two or more qualitatively different neural processes that operate according to different principles and often clash with one another. We describe a specific "dual process" perspective that distinguishes between "deliberative" and "emote" control of behavior. We use this framework to shed light on a wide range of legal issues involving foreign policy, terrorism, and international law that are difficult to make sense of in terms of the traditional rational choice perspective. We argue that in these areas, the powerful influence of emotions not only on the general public, but on politicians and judicial decision makers, leads to a substitution of symbol for substance that can be seen at two different levels: (1) in the types of situations and stimuli that drive people to action (namely vivid symbols rather than rational arguments), and (2) in the types of actions that people take—specifically symbolic actions that are superficially satisfying as opposed to more substantive actions that are less immediately satisfying but actually more likely to produce desired long-term results.

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