Simon Cullen. 161 Baker Hall, Department of Philosophy. Carnegie Mellon University. 5000 Forbes Avenue. Pittsburgh, PA. 15213-3890.
my last name at cmu dot edu
Assistant Teaching Professor. Department of Philosophy, Carnegie Mellon University. 2018–present
Associated faculty, Center for Informed Democracy & Social Cybersecurity
Associated faculty, Center for Behavioral and Decision Research
Postdoctoral Research Associate. Princeton Neuroscience Institute. 2017-18
Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Department of Philosophy, Princeton University. 2015-17
Doctor of Philosophy (Princeton University; 2015).
Master of Arts (Princeton University; 2012).
Bachelor of Arts with dual First-Class Honors in Philosophy and in History and Philosophy of Science; majors in Logic, Philosophy, 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 and on Philosophy Mapped.
Areas of Specialization
Psychology of reasoning. Philosophy of psychology. Ethics, especially moral psychology and metaethics.
Areas of Competence
Applied Ethics. Philosophy of Language. Philosophy of Mind. General philosophy of science. Metaphysics & epistemology. Logic, especially philosophical logic.
Lerner, A., Cullen, S., & Leslie, S (eds). (2020). Current Controversies in Philosophy of Cognitive Science. Routledge.
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 96th percentile of articles of a similar age by AltMetric.)
Cullen, S. (2017). The True Self and The Situation. The International Cognition and Culture Institute .
Cullen, S. (2010). Survey-driven romanticism. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 1(2), 275-296. (Cited around 200 times; ranked 49th among “papers listed under the category ‘Philosophy’ in Google Scholar metrics,” 2009-2013.)
Cullen, S., Oppenheimer, D. Campaign in Poetry, Govern in Prose, Persuade in Pictures: Visual argument presentation reduces partisan bias but only when arguments appeal to shared moral values.
Cullen, S., Oppenheimer, D. Choosing to Learn: The importance of autonomy in post-secondary education.
Cullen, S., Chapkovski, P., Byrd, N., & Thomason, T. Measuring reasoning and eliciting concepts using multiplayer discussion-based games.
Cullen, S., Byrd, N., & Dasgupta, S. Do nations have essences? Attribution and responsibility for national actions.
Cullen, S., Philosophy for STEM-focused students: Reducing the harm of coercive incentives in the classroom.
Cullen, S., & Sharma, V. Short report on an empirical study of argument presentation and political polarization.
Some invited presentations
How to curb self-censorship, increase inclusivity, promote resilience, and have productive discussions in public policy classrooms." McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University. 2023.
Is there a conflict between students' freedom of expression and creating inclusive classrooms? Lessons from 'Dangerous Ideas in Science and Society'. CMU Grand Challenge Seminar Facutly Lunch. 2023.
Structured reasoning techniques to improve intelligence products and interagency communication. (With Nick DiBella.) 2023.
-NSA Deputy Director of Research. CMU.
-IARPA Director of the Office of Analysis. CMU.
-CIA, Director of Artificial Intelligence. CMU.
-Senate Intelligence Committee Staff. US Senate.
Visual strategies to improve group reasoning, policymaking, and understanding across the aisle. (With DiBella.) Bipartisan Policy Center. 2023.
Thinking Alone and Together: Crowdsourcing discussions to investigate reasoning and persuasion. The Reasoning Lab @ U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. 2022.
Visualization and the language of value: Visual argument presentation and appeal to shared values improves argument evaluation among partisans. Center for Informed Democracy & Social-cybersecurity. 2022.
Measuring the development of students' reasoning abilities: Causal inference from non-experimental data. Harvard/ThinkerAnalytix teaching workshop. 2020.
Are we hearing the best ideas at the table? TEDxPrincetonU. 2018.
Using controlled reasoning to escape the echo chamber. 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 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.
Improving analytical reasoning and open-mindedness using 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.
Good deeds of passion and the unity of the vices: Valence modulates the effect of luck on judgments of responsibility.
Princeton University Program in Cognitive Science Lunchtime Talk Series. 2016;
Princeton University Cognitive Science Society. 2016.
When does an action express who you "really" are? The Mismatch Theory of Attribution and Self-disclosure.
Philosophy Colloquium, University of California, San Diego. 2015;
Knobe Lab, Yale University. 2015;
Princeton University Society for Cognitive Science (inaugural meeting). 2015;
Princeton University Cognitive Science Lunchtime Talk Series. 2014.
Improving reasoning using argument visualization: results from the second year of a field study with freshmen and sophomores.
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill workshop (sponsored by Geoffrey Sayre-Mccord). 2015;
Rutgers University (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.
Princeton University Forum on Human Values. 2015.
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 reasoning. 6th International Technology, Education, and Development Conference (with Eva van der Brugge). 2014.
Improving analytical reasoning in the US Intelligence Community. George Mason University Decomposition-Based Aggregative Forecasting Workshop (with Neil Thomason). 2014.
Epistemology of experimental philosophy. Australasian Association of Philosophy Conference. 2008.
Honors and awards
Dietrich College Innovation Award for Teaching
Dietrich College Seed Grand (with Danny Oppenheimer; 2023)
Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Research Advisor (2022-24)
Falk Grant for Research in the Humanities (2022)
Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Research Advisor (2020-22)
Falk Grant for Research in the Humanities (2019)
Princeton University Council on Science and Technology Research Grant (with Judth Fan; 2017-18)
Program in Cognitive Science 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)
Princeton 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)
As primary instructor
Carnegie Mellon University:
Dangerous Ideas in Science and Society
Philosophy, Science Fiction, War (with Mara Harrell).
Visual Introduction to Philosophy
Moral Psychology: Ethics and Reinforcement Learning (undergrad/grad seminar)
Ethical Theories (undergrad/grad seminar)
Introduction to Ethics
Psychology Research Training (with Danny Oppenheimer)
Philosophy Research Training
"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
US Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Research Advisor. Project: "Reducing Belief-Driven Thinking (ICPD 2020-22)". Office of the Director of National Intelligence
US Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Research Advisor. Project: "Visualization of Complex Arguments to Resolve Analytic Disagreements (ICPD-2022-08)". Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Graduate and undergraduate advising
Ricky Zhao, "Prisoner's Dillema: Why do teams play more aggressively than invididuals?" 2023
Dan Connolly, "Improving public understanding of economic policies." 2022-23.
Parker Felterman, "The Spectrum of Free Will and its Impact on the Individual." 2022
Claire Wang, "Implementation of Automated Discussion Moderation." 2021
Vidushi Sharma, “Doubt Yourself! A case for partisan political rationality." 2016 (With Sarah-Jane Leslie)
Kyle McClain (SURF), Lily Hazam (SURA), Ava Allard (SURA), Brandon Zhou (SURA), Jehyo Park. "National interview study of Applied Behavior Analysis therapists treatments for autistic children."
Arnav Paliwal (SURF), "Argument understanding and polarization"
Eric Shau (SURA), "Increasing the efficiency of Socrates: Matching participants using maximum a posteriori likelihood estimation"
Aditi Narasimhan (80198), "Designing stimuli for depolarization experiments"
Ammu Anil (85198), "Chat transcript coding for group reasoning experiments"
Peter Lu (85185), "Discussion markets to improve group reasoning"
Tiger Ruo (80495, Independent study)
Anna Li (80495, Independent study)
Departmental Generative AI Liaison. 2023
Academic Freedom/Freedom of Expression Educational Implementation Committee. 2023
CMU speech climate survey. 2022–
Dietrich College General Education Reasoning Assessment Program. (Principal Investigator for a college-wide study of the development of students' analytical reasoning abilities, with Dean Joanna Dickert as Co-I ). 2021–2023
Dietrich College Undergraduate Special Admissions Committee. 2023
Philosophy Department AI/Ethics (Teaching) Hiring Committee. 2022
ThinkerAnalytix Advisory Board Member. 2018–
Philosophy Graduate Admissions Committee. 2021
Reviewer for Journal of Cognitive Psychology, Frontiers in Psychology, Journal of Educational Psychology, Journal of Cognitive Development, Routledge, Review of Philosophy and Psychology, Ethical Theory and Practice, Decision, HackPrinceton.