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

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 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.)

In progress

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. Automated discussion markets improve group problem solving and decision making

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 Teach Dangerous Ideas in Dangerous Times: Empirical Results and Hands-on Lessons from Carnegie Mellon. HxA 2024.

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.

“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.

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.
University of California, San Diego. 2015;
Yale University. 2015;
Princeton University Society for Cognitive Science (inaugural meeting). 2015.

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.

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;
Decomposition-Based Aggregative Forecasting Workshop (with Neil Thomason). George Mason University. 2014.

Epistemology of experimental philosophy. Australasian Association of Philosophy Conference.

Honors and awards

Dietrich College Dean's Innovation Scholar

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)

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)


As primary instructor

Carnegie Mellon University: 

Princeton University: 

Postdoctoral advising

Graduate and undergraduate advising

Research training