By Elizabeth Landau, CNN
dated 8:04 AM EDT, Thu March 27, 2014
This image shows differences in brain activity between people who judge an act wrong and others who say it's not wrong
(CNN) -- Imagine a CEO wants to profit from a venture that, by the way, involves emitting pollution toxic to the environment, but she doesn't care because the goal is profit.
Is the CEO intentionally harming the environment? What if, instead, the CEO is pushing a project that happens to help the environment -- is the benefit any more or less intentional than the harm in the other scenario? How do you morally judge each of these situations?
Science is still trying to work out how exactly we reason through moral problems such as these, and how we judge others on the morality of their actions, said Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, professor of practical ethics at Duke University.
Researchers interested in the neuroscience of morality are investigating which brain networks are involved in such decisions, and what might account for people's individual differences in judgments. Studies on the topic often involve small samples of people -- functional magnetic resonance imaging is time-intensive and expensive -- but patterns are emerging as more results come in.