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. “How to Apply Generalities: Reply to Tolhurst and Shafer-Landau.” Moral Psychology, Volume 2: The Cognitive Science of Morality, edited by W. Sinnott-Armstrong, MIT Press, 2008, pp. 97–105.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Abstract + Concrete = Paradox.” Experimental Philosophy, edited by J. Knobe and S. Nichols, Oxford University Press, 2008, pp. 209–30.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “R. M. Hare (1919-).” A Companion to Analytic Philosophy, 2007, pp. 326–33. Scopus, doi:10.1002/9780470998656.ch26. Full Text

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Reflections on Reflection in Robert Audi's Moral Intuitionism.” Rationality and the Good: Critical Essays on the Ethics and Epistemology of Robert Audi, 2007. Scopus, doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195311952.003.0002. Full Text

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. Overcoming Christianity. Edited by L. M. Anthony, Oxford University Press, 2007, pp. 69–79.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. Introduction to Pyrrhonian Skepticism. 2006.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Classy Pyrrhonism.” Pyrrhonian Skepticism, 2006. Scopus, doi:10.1093/0195169727.003.0011. Full Text

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Moral Intuitionism Meets Empirical Psychology.” Metaethics after Moore, 2006. Scopus, doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199269914.003.0016. Full Text

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Moral Dilemmas.” The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by D. Borchert, McMillan Reference, 2006.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. It's Not My Fault: Global Warming and Individual Moral Obligations. Vol. 5, 2005, pp. 285–307. Scopus, doi:10.1016/S1569-3740(05)05013-3. Full Text


Aharoni, Eyal, et al. “Can psychopathic offenders discern moral wrongs? A new look at the moral/conventional distinction..” Journal of Abnormal Psychology, vol. 121, no. 2, May 2012, pp. 484–97. Epmc, doi:10.1037/a0024796. Full Text

Nadelhoffer, Thomas, et al. “Neuroprediction, Violence, and the Law: Setting the Stage..” Neuroethics, vol. 5, no. 1, Apr. 2012, pp. 67–99. Epmc, doi:10.1007/s12152-010-9095-z. Full Text

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Does Morality Have an Essence?.” Psychological Inquiry, vol. 23, no. 2, Apr. 2012, pp. 194–97. Scopus, doi:10.1080/1047840X.2012.666653. Full Text

Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter P. “Neurolaw and consciousness detection..” Cortex; a Journal Devoted to the Study of the Nervous System and Behavior, vol. 47, no. 10, Nov. 2011, pp. 1246–47. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2011.04.021. Full Text

Parkinson, Carolyn, et al. “Is morality unified? Evidence that distinct neural systems underlie moral judgments of harm, dishonesty, and disgust..” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, vol. 23, no. 10, Oct. 2011, pp. 3162–80. Epmc, doi:10.1162/jocn_a_00017. Full Text

Schweitzer, N. J., et al. “Neuroimages as evidence in a mens rea defense: No Impact.” Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, vol. 17, no. 3, Aug. 2011, pp. 357–93. Scopus, doi:10.1037/a0023581. Full Text

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Emotion and reliability in moral psychology.” Emotion Review, vol. 3, no. 3, July 2011, pp. 288–89. Scopus, doi:10.1177/1754073911402382. Full Text

Schaich Borg, Jana, et al. “Neural basis of moral verdict and moral deliberation..” Social Neuroscience, vol. 6, no. 4, Jan. 2011, pp. 398–413. Epmc, doi:10.1080/17470919.2011.559363. Full Text

O’Hara, R. E., et al. “Wording effects in moral judgments.” Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 5, no. 7, Dec. 2010, pp. 547–54.

Cope, Lora, et al. “Hemispheric Asymmetries During Processing of Immoral Stimuli.” Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience, vol. 2, no. 110, Dec. 2010, pp. 1–14.