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

Sinnott-Armstrong, W., and R. Audi, editors. Rationality, Rules, and Ideals; Critical Essays on Bernard Gert’s Moral Theory with Reply. Rowman and Littlefield, 2002.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W., and M. Timmons, editors. The Philosophy of Law Classic and Contemporary Readings with Commentary. Oxford University Press, 1996.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W., and M. Timmons, editors. Moral Knowledge? New Readings in Moral Epistemology. Oxford University Press, 1996.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W., et al., editors. Modality, Morality and Belief Essays in Honor of Ruth Barcan Marcus. Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Brison, S., and W. Sinnott-Armstrong, editors. Contemporary Perspectives on Constitutional Interpretation. Westview Press, 1993.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. Moral Dilemmas. Basil Blackwell, 1988.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W., editor. Finding Consciousness. Oxford Universirty Press.


Corradetti, C. Philosophical dimensions of human rights: Some contemporary views. Vol. 9789400723764, 2012, pp. 1–319. Scopus, doi:10.1007/978-94-007-2376-4. Full Text

Keister, L. A., et al. Introduction. Vol. 23, 2012, pp. xi–xvi.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Free Constrastivism.” Contrastivism in Philosophy, edited by M. Blaauw, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 2012.

Sandberg, Anders, et al. “The Memory of Jurors: Enhancing Trial Performance.” Memory and Law, edited by Lynn Nadel and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Oxford University Press, 2012.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “A Case Study in Neuroscience and Responsibility.” Evolution and Morality, edited by James E. Fleming and Sanford Levinson, New York University Press, 2012, pp. 194–211.

Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter. “An Empirical Challenge to Moral Intuitionism.” The New Intuitionism, edited by Jill Graper Hernandez, Continuum, 2011, pp. 11–28&200-203-.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Moral Skepticism.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2011.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Consequentialism.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2011.

Nadelhoffer, Thomas, and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong. “Is Psychopathy a Mental Disease?.” Neuroscience and Responsibility, edited by Nicole Vincent, Oxford University Press, 2011.

Nadelhoffer, Thomas, and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong. “Experimental Ethics.” The Continuum Companion to Ethics, edited by Christian Miller, Continuum, 2011, pp. 261–74.


Fede, Samantha J., et al. “Abnormal fronto-limbic engagement in incarcerated stimulant users during moral processing..” Psychopharmacology, vol. 233, no. 17, Sept. 2016, pp. 3077–87. Epmc, doi:10.1007/s00213-016-4344-4. Full Text

Chituc, Vladimir, et al. “Blame, not ability, impacts moral "ought" judgments for impossible actions: Toward an empirical refutation of "ought" implies "can"..” Cognition, vol. 150, May 2016, pp. 20–25. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2016.01.013. Full Text

Alexander, Prescott, et al. “Readiness potentials driven by non-motoric processes..” Consciousness and Cognition, vol. 39, Jan. 2016, pp. 38–47. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.concog.2015.11.011. Full Text

Henne, P., et al. “An Empirical Refutation of 'Ought' Implies 'Can'.” Analysis (United Kingdom), vol. 76, no. 3, Jan. 2016, pp. 283–90. Scopus, doi:10.1093/analys/anw041. Full Text

Ngo, Lawrence, et al. “Two Distinct Moral Mechanisms for Ascribing and Denying Intentionality..” Scientific Reports, vol. 5, Dec. 2015. Epmc, doi:10.1038/srep17390. Full Text Open Access Copy

Clifford, Scott, et al. “Moral foundations vignettes: a standardized stimulus database of scenarios based on moral foundations theory..” Behavior Research Methods, vol. 47, no. 4, Dec. 2015, pp. 1178–98. Epmc, doi:10.3758/s13428-014-0551-2. Full Text

Summers, J. S., and W. Sinnott-Armstrong. “Scrupulous agents.” Philosophical Psychology, vol. 28, no. 7, Oct. 2015, pp. 947–66. Scopus, doi:10.1080/09515089.2014.949005. Full Text

Schlegel, Alexander, et al. “Hypnotizing Libet: Readiness potentials with non-conscious volition..” Consciousness and Cognition, vol. 33, May 2015, pp. 196–203. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.concog.2015.01.002. Full Text

Singh, D., and W. Sinnott-Armstrong. “The DSM-5 Definition of Mental Disorder.” Public Affairs Quarterly, vol. 29, no. 1, University of Illinois Press, 2015, pp. 5–31.

Aharoni, Eyal, et al. “What's wrong? Moral understanding in psychopathic offenders..” Journal of Research in Personality, vol. 53, Dec. 2014, pp. 175–81. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2014.10.002. Full Text