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

Craig, William Lane, and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong. God? A Debate Between a Christian and an Atheist. Oxford University Press, USA, 2004.

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.


Nadelhoffer, Thomas, et al. “The Mind, the Brain, and the Law.” The Future of Punishment, edited by Thomas Nadelhoffer, Oxford University Press, 2013.

Borg, Jana Schaich, and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong. “Do Psychopaths Make Moral Judgments?The Oxford Handbook of Psychopathy and Law, edited by Kent Kiehl and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Oxford University Press, 2013.

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. Scopus, doi:10.1108/s0277-2833(2012)0000023003. Full Text

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, and Ken Levy. “Insanity Defenses.” The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Criminal Law, edited by John Deigh and David Dolinko, Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. 299–334.

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.


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

Kelly, M., et al. “Moral conformity in online interactions: rational justifications increase influence of peer opinions on moral judgments.” Social Influence, vol. 12, no. 2–3, July 2017, pp. 57–68. Scopus, doi:10.1080/15534510.2017.1323007. Full Text

Stanley, Matthew L., et al. “I'm not the person I used to be: The self and autobiographical memories of immoral actions.Journal of Experimental Psychology. General, vol. 146, no. 6, June 2017, pp. 884–95. Epmc, doi:10.1037/xge0000317. Full Text

Medaglia, J. D., et al. “Mind control as a guide for the mind.” Nature Human Behaviour, vol. 1, no. 6, May 2017. Scopus, doi:10.1038/s41562-017-0119. Full Text

Cameron, C. Daryl, et al. “Implicit moral evaluations: A multinomial modeling approach.Cognition, vol. 158, Jan. 2017, pp. 224–41. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2016.10.013. Full Text

Ancell, Aaron, and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong. “How to Allow Conscientious Objection in Medicine While Protecting Patient Rights.Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics : Cq : The International Journal of Healthcare Ethics Committees, vol. 26, no. 1, Jan. 2017, pp. 120–31. Epmc, doi:10.1017/s0963180116000694. Full Text

Fede, Samantha J., et al. “Distinct neuronal patterns of positive and negative moral processing in psychopathy.Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience, vol. 16, no. 6, Dec. 2016, pp. 1074–85. Epmc, doi:10.3758/s13415-016-0454-z. Full Text

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