Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

Chauncey Stillman Distinguished Professor of Practical Ethics

External Address: 
Duke University Box 90432, 203B West Duke Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Duke Box 90743, Durham, NC 27708-0743


Walter Sinnott-Armstrong is Chauncey Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics in the Department of Philosophy and the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University. He has secondary appointments in the Law School and the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, and he is core faculty in the Duke Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, and the Duke Center for Interdisciplinary Decision Sciences. He serves as Resource Faculty in the Philosophy Department of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Partner Investigator at the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics, and Research Scientist with The Mind Research Network in New Mexico. He has visited at National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan, the Macquarie Research Center for Agency, Values, and Ethics in Australia, and the National Institutes of Health in Washington. He has received fellowships from the Harvard Program in Ethics and the Professions, the Princeton Center for Human Values, the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, the Center for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the Australian National University, and the Sage Center for the Study of the Mind at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has served as co-chair of the Board of Officers of the American Philosophical Association, co-director of the MacArthur Law and Neuroscience Project, and co-PI of the project on the Neuroscience and Philosophy of Free Will and Moral Responsibility at Chapman University. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Amherst College and his doctorate from Yale University. He has published widely on ethics (theoretical and applied as well as meta-ethics), empirical moral psychology and neuroscience, philosophy of law, epistemology, philosophy of religion, and informal logic. Most recently, he is the author of  Think Again: How to Reason and Argue, Morality Without God?and Moral Skepticisms; co-author with Robert Fogelin of Understanding Arguments, Ninth Edition, and with Jesse Summers of Clean Hands: Philosophical Lessons of Scrupulosity; and editor of Moral Psychology, volumes I-V. His numerous articles have appeared in a variety of philosophical, scientific, and popular journals and collections. He performs various experiments in moral psychology and brain science with his Moral Attitudes and Decisions (MAD) Lab. He is working on one book on moral artificial intelligence and another book that will develop a contrastivist view of freedom and responsibility. He co-directs Summer Seminars in Neuroscience and Philosophy (SSNaP) with Felipe De Brigard and teaches a popular MOOC, Think Again, on the Coursera website with Ram Neta. 

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Yale University 1982

  • A.B., Amherst College 1977

Singh, I., et al., editors. Bioprediction, Biomarkers, and Bad Behavior. Oxford University Press, 2013.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W., and D. Fishman, editors. Mental Illness and Ethical Responsibility. Lulu Press, 2012.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W., and L. Nadel, editors. Conscious Will and Responsibility: A Tribute to Benjamin Libet. Oxford University Press, 2010, pp. 1–288. Manual, doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381641.001.0001. Full Text

Sinott-Armstrong, W., and L. Nadel, editors. Conscious Will and Responsibility. Oxford University Press (OUP), 2010.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. Morality. Oxford University Press, 2009.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W., editor. Moral Psychology, Vol. 1: The Evolution of Morality. MIT Press, 2008.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W., editor. Moral Psychology, Vol. 3: The Neuroscience of Morality. MIT Press, 2008.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W., editor. Moral Psychology, Volume 2: The Cognitive Science of Morality. MIT Press, 2008.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. Moral Skepticisms. 2006, pp. 1–288. Scopus, doi:10.1093/0195187725.001.0001. Full Text

Sinnott-Armstrong, W., and R. Howarth, editors. Perspectives on Climate Change Science, Economics, Politics, Ethics. Elsevier, 2005.


Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Human Morality.” Philosophical Books, vol. 34, no. 4, 1993, pp. 235–39.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Playing by the Rules.” Philosophical Books, vol. 33, no. 2, Apr. 1992, pp. 116–18.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Actions and Events: Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson.” Nous, Wiley: 24 months, 1991, pp. 120–23.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Moral Relevance and Moral Conflict.” Philosophical Books, vol. 30, no. 3, July 1989, pp. 183–85.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Spreading the Word.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, vol. 48, no. 1, Wiley: 24 months, Sept. 1987, pp. 163–66.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Free Speech: A Philosophical Enquiry.” Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, vol. 75, no. 9, June 1983, pp. 18–20.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “The Life of the Mind.” Grolier’S Masterplots: 1979 Annual, Grolier Enterprises, 1979, pp. 196–99.


Alexander, P., et al. “Dissecting the Readiness Potential: An investigation of the relationship between readiness potentials, conscious willing, and action.” Surrounding Free Will, edited by A. Mele, Oxford University Press, 2014, pp. 205–30.

Gazzaniga, M. S., and G. R. Mangun, editors. “Neuroscience and Society edited by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Adina Roskies.” The Cognitive Neurosciences, MIT Press, 2014.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. Introduction. 2014, pp. xiii–xviii.

Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter. “Do Psychopaths Refute Internalism?Being Amoral: Psychopathy and Moral Incapacity, edited by Thomas Schramme, MIT Press, 2014.

Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter. “Moral Disagreements with Psychopaths.” Challenges to Moral and Religious Belief: Disagreement and Evolution, edited by Michael Bergmann, Oxford University Press, 2014.

Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter, and Adina Roskies. “Introduction to Neuroscience and Society.” The Cognitive Neurosciences V, edited by Michael Gazzaniga and Ronald Mangum, MIT Press, 2014.

Nadel, L., and W. P. Sinnott-Armstrong. Introduction: Memory in the Legal Context. 2013.

Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter. “Are Moral Judgments Unified?Report, Science of Morality Workshop: Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Approaches Now and in the Future, edited by Steven Hitlin and Jan Stets, Sociology Program, Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences, National Science Foundation, 2009, 2013, pp. 96–98.

Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter. “How Religion Undermines Compromise.” Religion, Intolerance, and Conflict, edited by Steve Clark et al., Oxford University Press, 2013.

Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter, and Hannah Pickard. “What is Addiction?Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry, edited by K. W. M. Fulford et al., Oxford University Press, 2013.


Harris, Adrianne A., et al. “The central role of disgust in disorders of food avoidance.Int J Eat Disord, vol. 52, no. 5, May 2019, pp. 543–53. Pubmed, doi:10.1002/eat.23047. Full Text

Henne, P., et al. “Against Some Recent Arguments for ‘Ought’ Implies ‘Can’: Reasons, Deliberation, Trying, and Furniture.” Philosophia (United States), vol. 47, no. 1, Mar. 2019, pp. 131–39. Scopus, doi:10.1007/s11406-017-9944-7. Full Text

Stanley, M. L., et al. “A reason-based explanation for moral dumbfounding.” Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 14, no. 2, Mar. 2019, pp. 120–29.

Vierkant, Tillmann, et al. “Responsibility Without Freedom? Folk Judgements About Deliberate Actions.Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 10, Jan. 2019, p. 1133. Epmc, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01133. Full Text

McDonald, Kelsey, et al. “Do framing effects debunk moral beliefs?Behavioral and Brain Sciences, vol. 42, CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS, Jan. 2019.

Cameron, C. Daryl, et al. “Corrigendum to "Implicit moral evaluations: A multinomial modeling approach" [Cognition 158 (2017) 224-241].Cognition, vol. 173, Apr. 2018, p. 138. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2017.12.012. Full Text

Kingston, E., and W. Sinnott-Armstrong. “What’s Wrong with Joyguzzling?Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, vol. 21, no. 1, Feb. 2018, pp. 169–86. Scopus, doi:10.1007/s10677-017-9859-1. Full Text

Wright, J. C., et al. “Be it ever so humble: Proposing a dual-dimension account and measurement of humility.” Self and Identity, vol. 17, no. 1, Jan. 2018, pp. 92–125. Scopus, doi:10.1080/15298868.2017.1327454. Full Text

Tang, Honghong, et al. “Are Proselfs More Deceptive and Hypocritical? Social Image Concerns in Appearing Fair.Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 9, Jan. 2018, p. 2268. Epmc, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02268. Full Text

Stanton, S. J., et al. “Neuromarketing: Ethical Implications of its Use and Potential Misuse.” Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 144, no. 4, Sept. 2017, pp. 799–811. Scopus, doi:10.1007/s10551-016-3059-0. Full Text


Sinnott-Armstrong, W. Does Neuroscience Undermine Free Will? Slate.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. Intentions and Consequences in the Modern World. The Center for  Humans & Nature, John Templeton Foundation.

Roskies, A., and W. Sinnott-Armstrong. Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Thinking about Morality.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. What is Philosophy? Dartmouth.