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. “Marcus, Ruth Barcan.” The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, edited by R. Audi, Cambridge University Press, 1999, pp. 535–535.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Moral Dilemmas.” Encyclopedic Dictionary of Business Ethics, edited by P. Werhane and R. E. Freeman, Blackwell, 1997, pp. 427–28.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Has Ethics Kept Up With the Development of Science, Technology, and Medicine?The Human Predicament:  An International Dialogue on the Meaning of Human Behavior, edited by D. V. Razis, Promerhus Books, 1996, pp. 91–103.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Problems of Philosophy of Law (Update).” Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Supplement, edited by D. Borchert, Macmillian, 1996, pp. 414–16.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Moral Skepticism and Justification.” Moral Knowledge? New Readings in Moral Epistemology, edited by W. Sinnott-Armstrong and M. Timmons, Oxford University Press, 1996, pp. 3–48.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Moral Dilemmas and Rights.” Moral Dilemmas and Moral Theory, edited by H. E. Mason, Oxford University Press, 1996, pp. 48–65.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Moral Dilemmas.” The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, edited by R. Audi, Cambridge University Press, 1995, pp. 508–508.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W., and S. Brison. “A Philosophical Introduction to Constitutional Interpretation.” Contemporary Perspectives on Constitutional Interpretation, edited by S. Brison and W. Sinnott-Armstrong, Westview, 1993, pp. 1–25.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Intuitionism.” Encyclopedia of Ethics, edited by L. Becker and C. Becker, vol. 1, Garland Publishing Co., 1992, pp. 628–30.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Moral Dilemmas.” Encyclopedia of Ethics, edited by L. Becker and C. Becker, vol. 2, Garland Publishing Co., 1992, pp. 835–37.


May, Joshua, et al. “Practical Interests, Relevant Alternatives, and Knowledge Attributions: an Empirical Study.Review of Philosophy and Psychology, vol. 1, no. 2, June 2010, pp. 265–73. Epmc, doi:10.1007/s13164-009-0014-3. Full Text

Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter. “Personality Disorders and Responsibility: Learning from Peay.” Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology, 2010.

Walter Sinnott Armstrong, Michael. “Does Good Need God?Encompass Ethics Magazine, vol. Spring, 2010, pp. 40–43.

Belcher, Annabelle, and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong. “Neurolaw.Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews. Cognitive Science, vol. 1, no. 1, Jan. 2010, pp. 18–22. Epmc, doi:10.1002/wcs.8. Full Text

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “How strong is this obligation? An argument for consequentialism from concomitant variation.” Analysis, vol. 69, no. 3, July 2009, pp. 438–42. Scopus, doi:10.1093/analys/anp076. Full Text

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Moral perception and heuristics.” Modern Schoolman, vol. 86, no. 3–4, Jan. 2009, pp. 327–47. Scopus, doi:10.5840/schoolman2009863/47. Full Text

Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter. “MIXED-UP META-ETHICS.” Nous, 2009, pp. 235–56.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Replies to copp, timmons, and railton.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, vol. 77, no. 3, Nov. 2008, pp. 820–36. Scopus, doi:10.1111/j.1933-1592.2008.00226.x. Full Text

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Précis of moral scepticisms.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, vol. 77, no. 3, Nov. 2008, pp. 789–93. Scopus, doi:10.1111/j.1933-1592.2008.00222.x. Full Text

sinnott-armstrong, walter. “REPLIES TO DREIER AND MCNAUGHTON.” Philosophical Books, vol. 49, no. 3, Wiley, July 2008, pp. 218–28. Crossref, doi:10.1111/j.1468-0149.2008.00463.x. Full Text