Simon Cullen. 161 Baker Hall, Department of Philosophy. Carnegie Mellon University. 5000 Forbes Avenue. Pittsburgh, PA. 15213-3890.
Email: my initials at simoncullen dot org
Assistant Teaching Professor. Department of Philosophy, Carnegie Mellon University. 2018-
Postdoctoral Research Associate. Princeton Neuroscience Institute. 2017-18.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Department of Philosophy, Princeton University. 2015-17.
Doctor of Philosophy (Princeton University; 2015).
Bachelor of Arts with First-Class Honors in Philosophy and in History and Philosophy of Science; majors in Philosophy, Logic and Philosophy of Science (The University of Melbourne; 2007).
Research and teaching
For an overview of some of my current research, see Projects. I share tools for helping students improve at analytical reading and reasoning, and materials for instructors interested in incorporating argument visualization into their classes, on the Teaching page of this site.
Areas of Specialization
Cognitive Science. Philosophy of Psychology. Ethics, especially Moral Psychology and Metaethics. Improving rationality and reasoning.
Areas of Competence
Applied Ethics. Philosophy of Language. Philosophy of Mind. General Philosophy of Science. Metaphysics & Epistemology. Logic, especially philosophical logic.
Cullen, S. (2018). When do circumstances excuse? Moral prejudices and beliefs about the true self drive preferences for agency-minimizing explanations. Cognition, 180, 165-181. (Covered by Denise Valenti in How we explain the behavior of others depends on our beliefs about their ‘true selves’.)
Cullen, S., Fan, J., van der Brugge, E., & Elga, A. (2018). Improving analytical reasoning and argument understanding: a quasi-experimental field study of argument visualization. Nature, Science of Learning, 3(1), 21. (Ranked in the 94th percentile of articles of a similar age by AltMetric.)
Cullen, S. (2010). Survey-driven romanticism. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 1(2), 275-296. (Cited around 170 times according to Google Scholar; ranked 49th among “papers listed under the category ‘Philosophy’ in Google Scholar metrics,” 2009-2013.)
Lerner, A., Cullen, S., & Leslie, S. Current Controversies in Philosophy of Cognitive Science. Routledge. "Cognitive science poses a variety of philosophical questions. In this forthcoming volume, leading researchers debate five core questions in Philosophy of Cognitive Science: Is Universal Grammar required to explain our linguistic capacities? Are some of our concepts innate or are they all learned? What role do our bodies play in cognition? Can neuroscience help us understand the mind? Can cognitive science help us understand human morality? The volume contains two accessible essays on each topic, each advocating for an opposing approach."
Cullen, S., & Isaacs, Y. Arbitrary Self.
Cullen, S., & Dasgupta, S. Do nations have essences? Attribution and responsibility for national actions.
Cullen, S., Chapkovski, P., Isaacs Y, & Thomason, T. Eliciting concepts using multiplayer discussion-based games.
Cullen, S. Philosophy for STEM-focused students: reducing the harm of coercive incentives in the classroom.
Honors and awards
Carnegie Mellon University Falk Grant for Research in the Humanities (2018-).
University Council on Science and Technology Research Grant (with Judth Fan; 2017-18).
Program in Cognitive Science Research Grant (with Judith Fan; 2016-17).
Center for Human Values (special grant; 2015-16).
Graduate School Award for Excellence in Teaching (2014).
250th Anniversary Fund for Innovation in Undergraduate Education (with Adam Elga; 2013).
Cotsen-Graduate Fellow in Philosophy (2011-12).
University Fellowship (2009-14).
Australian Postgraduate Award (2008-9).
Dwight Final Examination Prize (for “The highest score in the final assessment of the degree of Bachelor of Arts degree with Honors”; 2007).
Dwight Prize in History and Philosophy of Science (for “The highest final score in History and Philosophy of Science” Honors Degree; 2007).
First Prize in Monash University Philosophy Essay Competition (open to Australasia; 2007).
Honors Scholarship (awarded to the student with the highest score in the Bachelor of Arts entering Honors; 2006).
Melbourne Abroad Scholarship (for study abroad at UC Berkeley; 2005-6).
Faculty of Arts Dean’s Award (2004).
Eliciting concepts using multiplayer discussion-based games. Machery Lab, University of Pittsburgh. 2019.
Are we hearing the best ideas at the table? TEDxPrincetonU. 2018.
Using controlled reasoning to escape the echo chamber. Cohen Lab, Princeton Neuroscience Institute. 2017.
“What’s the point of getting so much reading since nobody reads all of it and also nobody really knows what they're reading?”* Princeton University Philosophy Department Colloquium. 2017. (*Title taken from anonymous-student feedback.)
The essence of the United States: folk attributions for national actions (with Shamik Dasgupta). Lombrozo Lab, University of California, Berkeley. 2017; Knobe Lab, Yale University. 2015.
Disunity of value. Princeton University Forum on Human Values. 2017.
A new puzzle of moral luck. Princeton University Forum on Human Values. 2017.
Improving analytical reasoning and open-mindedness with philosophical argument visualization. Carnegie Mellon University Philosophy Colloquium. 2016; CUNY Graduate Center, (co-sponsored by the Political Science and Philosophy programs, the Digital Initiatives Program, and the Teaching and Learning Center of NYC). 2016.
What’s bad about aging? Arguments for and against life-extension. Envision. 2016.
Good deeds of passion and the unity of the vices: Valence modulates the effect of luck on responsibility judgments. Princeton University Program in Cognitive Science Lunchtime Talk Series. 2016; Princeton University Cognitive Science Society. 2016.
Essence, attribution, and responsibility: When does an action express who you really are? Philosophy Colloquium, University of California, San Diego. 2015; Knobe Lab, Yale University. 2015; Princeton University Society for Cognitive Science (inaugural meeting). 2015; Princeton University Forum on Human Values. 2015.
Improving reasoning using argument visualization: results from the second year of a quasi-experimental field study with freshmen and sophomores. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill workshop (sponsored by Geoffrey Sayre-Mccord). 2015; Rutgers University (general teaching workshop). 2015.
Self-disclosure and attribution. New York University Experimental Philosophy of the Self. 2014.
You don’t have to be good to be good deep down. Forbes College. 2014.
Attribution and self-disclosure: the mismatch hypothesis. Princeton University Cognitive Science Lunchtime Talk Series. 2014.
Improving reasoning using argument visualization: a quasi-experimental field study with freshmen. Princeton University Philosophy Department Colloquium (with Adam Elga and Eva van der Brugge) 2014; McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning (with Adam Elga). 2014.
The Conceptometer: a futuristic methodology for conceptual analysis. Berlin School of Mind and Brain Institut für Philosophie Research Colloquium, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. 2014.
Improving analytical reading and reasoning. 6th International Technology, Education, and Development Conference (with Eva van der Brugge). 2014.
Improving analytical reasoning in the IC. George Mason University Decomposition-Based Aggregative Forecasting Workshop (with Neil Thomason). 2014.
Reference and semantic non-specificity. Princeton University Luce Series in Philosophy and Cognitive Science. 2014.
Legal positivism and methodological naturalism. Princeton University Workshop in Normative Philosophy. 2014.
Psychopathy and the origins of morality. Luce Series in Philosophy and Cognitive Science. 2011.
Reference: natural kind terms and mental models. Luce Series in Philosophy and Cognitive Science. 2011.
Mental models and semantic non-specificity. Luce Series in Philosophy and Cognitive Science. 2010.
Is water necessarily H2O? It depends on how you ask the question. Princeton University Philosophical Society. 2010.
Epistemology of experimental philosophy. Australasian Association of Philosophy Conference. 2008.
As primary instructor
Carnegie Mellon University:
- "Philosophy, Science Fiction, War." Lectures, open to all students (with Mara Harrell).
- "Visual Introduction to Philosophy." Lectures, open to all students.
- "Moral Psychology: Ethics and Learning." Seminar, open to grad students and upper-level undergraduates.
- "Ethical Theories." Seminar, focusing on nihilism and expressivism. Open to grad students and upper-level undergraduates.
- "Introduction to Ethics." Lectures, open to all students.
- "Philosophical Analysis using Argument Maps." Freshman seminar on various topics. Sole instructor, 2015-17, Peter T. Joseph ‘72 Freshman Seminar in Human Values; with Shamik Dasgupta, 2014; with Adam Elga, 2013. Covered by Merrell Noden in Princeton Alumni Weekly.
As co-advisor (with Sarah-Jane Leslie)
- Vidushi Sharma, “Doubt Yourself! A case for partisan political rationality." 2016.
As assistant instructor
- "Introduction to Moral Philosophy." Primary instructor: Michael Smith. 2012.
- "Introduction to Metaphysics & Epistemology." Primary instructor: Gideon Rosen. 2010.
The University of Melbourne:
- "Philosophical Issues." Primary instructors: Karen Jones and Francois Schroeter. 2008-9.
- "Science, Philosophy, and History." Primary instructor: Neil Thomason. 2007-8.
Routledge. Review of Philosophy and Psychology. Ethical Theory and Practice. Journal of Cognitive Psychology. Frontiers in Psychology. Journal of Educational Psychology. HackPrinceton (expo round judge).
Primary: Sarah-Jane Leslie and Gideon Rosen. Secondary: Michael Smith.