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. “The Value of Bad Grades.” Falling in Love with Wisdom, Oxford University Press, 1992, pp. 54–56.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Neural Lie Detection in Courts.” Using Imaging to Identify Deceit: Scientific and Ethical Questions, American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “The Disunity of Morality.” Moral Brains: The Neuroscience of Morality, edited by M. Liao, Oxford University Press.

Summers, J., and W. Sinnott-Armstrong. “Scrupulous Characters.” Character: Perspectives from Philosophy and Psychology, edited by I. Fileva, Oxford University Press.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W., and J. Summers. “Scrupulous Judgments.” Studies in Normative Ethics, edited by M. Timmons, Oxforfd Univesity Press.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Asking the Right Questions in Moral Psychology.” The Atlas of Moral Psychology, edited by J. Graham and K. Gray, Guilford Press.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Experimental Philosophy.” The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, edited by R. Audi, Cambridge University Press.


Cushman, Fiery, et al. “Moral appraisals affect doing/allowing judgments.Cognition, vol. 108, no. 1, July 2008, pp. 281–89. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2008.02.005. Full Text

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “A contrastivist manifesto.” Social Epistemology, vol. 22, no. 3, July 2008, pp. 257–70. Scopus, doi:10.1080/02691720802546120. Full Text

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Is moral phenomenology unified?Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, vol. 7, no. 1, Mar. 2008, pp. 85–97. Scopus, doi:10.1007/s11097-007-9065-z. Full Text

Aharoni, Eyal, et al. “Can neurological evidence help courts assess criminal responsibility? Lessons from law and neuroscience.Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, vol. 1124, Mar. 2008, pp. 145–60. Epmc, doi:10.1196/annals.1440.007. Full Text

Sinnott-Armstrong, W., et al. “Intention, temporal order, and moral judgments.” Mind and Language, vol. 23, no. 1, Feb. 2008, pp. 90–106. Scopus, doi:10.1111/j.1468-0017.2007.00330.x. Full Text

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Moderate Classy Pyrrhonian Moral Scepticism.” The Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 58, no. 232, 2008, pp. 448–56. Manual, doi:10.2307/40208637. Full Text

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Moral Skepticisms.” Philosophical Books, vol. 49, no. 3, Wiley: No OnlineOpen, 2008, pp. 193–96.

Kranzler, H. R., and T. K. Li. “What is addiction?Alcohol Research and Health, vol. 31, no. 2, 2008, pp. 93–95.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W., et al. “Brain Images as Legal Evidence.” Episteme, vol. 5, no. 3, Jan. 2008, pp. 359–73. Scopus, doi:10.3366/E1742360008000452. Full Text

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. “Replies to Hough, Baumann and Blaauw.” Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 58, no. 232, Jan. 2008, pp. 478–88. Scopus, doi:10.1111/j.1467-9213.2008.561.x. Full Text