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. “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

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Gert Contra Consequentialism.” Rationality, Rules, and Ideals; Critical Essays on Bernard Gert’s Moral Theory with a Reply, edited by W. Sinnott-Armstrong and R. Audi, Rowan and Littlefield, 2002, pp. 145–63.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Two Ways to Derive Constitutional Rights.” Legal Interpretation in Democratic States, edited by J. Goldsworthy and T. Campbell, Ashgate/Dartmouth Publishing, 2002, pp. 231–44.

Audi, R., and W. Sinnott-Armstrong. “The Scope and Structure of the Essays; A Brief Introduction.” Rationality, Rules, and Ideals; Critical Essays on Bernard Gert’s Moral Theory with a Reply, edited by W. Sinnott-Armstrong and R. Audi, Rowman and Littlefield, 2002, pp. 1–3.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Ought’ Implies ‘Can'.” Encyclopedia of Ethics, edited by L. Becker and C. Becker, vol. 2, Routledge, 2001, pp. 1265–66.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Gert, Bernard.” Encyclopedia of Ethics, edited by L. Becker and C. Becker, vol. 1, Routledge, 2001, pp. 608–10.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “R. M. Hare.” A Companion to Analytic Philosophy, edited by A. P. Martinich and D. Sosa, Blackwell, 2001, pp. 326–33.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Impartiality.” The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, edited by R. Audi, Cambridge University Press, 1999, pp. 419–419.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Moral Skepticism.” The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, edited by R. Audi, Cambridge University Press, 1999, pp. 589–90.


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

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

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

Nadel, L., and W. Sinnott-Armstrong. “Preface.” Conscious Will and Responsibility: A Tribute to Benjamin Libet, Nov. 2010.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Alternatives and defaults: Knobe's two explanations of how moral judgments influence intuitions about intentionality and causation.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences, vol. 33, no. 4, Aug. 2010, pp. 349–50. Scopus, doi:10.1017/S0140525X1000186X. Full Text

Miller, Michael B., et al. “Abnormal moral reasoning in complete and partial callosotomy patients.Neuropsychologia, vol. 48, no. 7, June 2010, pp. 2215–20. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.02.021. Full Text