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. “Framing Moral Intuitions.” Moral Psychology, Volume 2: The Cognitive Science of Morality, edited by W. Sinnott-Armstrong, MIT Press, 2008, pp. 47–76.

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. “Preventive War, What Is It Good For?Preemption: Military Action and Moral Justification, 2008. Scopus, doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199233137.003.0009. Full Text

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


Schaich Borg, Jana, et al. “Subcomponents of psychopathy have opposing correlations with punishment judgments.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 105, no. 4, Oct. 2013, pp. 667–87. Epmc, doi:10.1037/a0033485. Full Text

Schlegel, Alexander, et al. “Barking up the wrong free: readiness potentials reflect processes independent of conscious will.Experimental Brain Research, vol. 229, no. 3, Sept. 2013, pp. 329–35. Epmc, doi:10.1007/s00221-013-3479-3. Full Text

Aharoni, Eyal, et al. “Neuroprediction of future rearrest.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 110, no. 15, Apr. 2013, pp. 6223–28. Epmc, doi:10.1073/pnas.1219302110. Full Text

Nadel, L., and W. P. Sinnott-Armstrong. “Preface.” Memory and Law, Jan. 2013.

Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter, and Franklin G. Miller. “What makes killing wrong?Journal of Medical Ethics, vol. 39, no. 1, Jan. 2013, pp. 3–7. Epmc, doi:10.1136/medethics-2011-100351. Full Text

Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter, and Franklin G. Miller. “Killing versus totally disabling: a reply to critics.Journal of Medical Ethics, vol. 39, no. 1, Jan. 2013, pp. 12–14. Epmc, doi:10.1136/medethics-2012-100948. Full Text

Nadelhoffer, T., and W. Sinnott-Armstrong. “Neurolaw and neuroprediction: Potential promises and perils.” Philosophy Compass, vol. 7, no. 9, Sept. 2012, pp. 631–42. Scopus, doi:10.1111/j.1747-9991.2012.00494.x. 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