Simon Cullen. Department of Philosophy, Carnegie Mellon University. 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA, 15213-3890.

Email and Hangouts: my initials at simoncullen dot org. Skype: symoncullen.


Assistant Teaching Professor. Department of Philosophy, Carnegie Mellon University. 2018-

Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Princeton Neuroscience Institute. 2017-18.

Postdoctoral Research Associate. 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).

Areas of Specialization

Philosophy and Cognitive Science. Philosophy of Psychology. Ethics, especially Moral Psychology and Metaethics.

Areas of Competence

Applied Ethics. Philosophy of Language. Philosophy of Mind. 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 on Princeton University’s homepage: 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. ("In the 94th percentile of articles of a similar age” scored by AltMetric.)

Cullen, S. (2010). Survey-driven romanticism. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 1(2), 275-296. (Cited around 160 times according to Google Scholar; ranked around “#1,129 of 2,258,887” papers viewed on, and 49th among “papers listed under the category ‘Philosophy’ in Google Scholar metrics,” 2009-2013.)

In press

Lerner, A., Cullen, S., & Leslie, S. Current Controversies in Philosophy of Cognitive Science. Routledge.

In progress

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., & Oppenheimer, D. Visualization and value: Visual argument presentation reduces biased reasoning but only when arguments appeal to shared moral values.


Cullen, S., & Sharma, V. Short report on argument presentation and political polarization.

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” Honours 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 Honours; 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.

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 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.

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? Knobe Lab, Yale University. 2015; Philosophy Colloquium, University of California, San Diego. 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. Experimental Philosophy of the Self, NYU. 2014        

You don’t have to be good to be good deep down. Forbes College. 2014.

The mismatch hypothesis of attribution and self-disclosure. 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 intelligence community. 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 Seminar Series in Philosophy and Cognitive Science. 2011.

Mental models and semantic non-specificity. Luce Seminar 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.


At Princeton University: co-advised (with Sarah-Jane Leslie) Vidushi Sharma’s senior thesis, “Doubt Yourself! A case for partisan political rationality,” 2016.

Primary instructor

At Carnegie Mellon University:

Introduction to Philosophy (lectures open to all undergraduates),

Moral Psychology (seminar open to grad students and upper-level undergraduates),

Ethical Theories (seminar open to grad students and upper-level undergraduates),

Introduction to Ethics (lectures open to all undergraduates).

At Princeton University:

Philosophical Analysis using Argument Maps (freshman seminar on various topics; primary instructor, 2015-17; with Shamik Dasgupta, 2014; with Adam Elga, 2013; covered by Merrell Noden in Princeton Alumni Weekly).

Assistant instructor

At Princeton University:

Introduction to Moral Philosophy (primary instructor: Michael Smith; 2012),

Introduction to Metaphysics & Epistemology (primary instructor: Gideon Rosen; 2010).

At 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).


Review of Philosophy and Psychology; Ethical Theory and Practice; Journal of Cognitive Psychology, Frontiers in Psychology; Journal of Educational Psychology; HackPrinceton (expo round judge).

Dissertation advisers

Primary: Sarah-Jane Leslie, Gideon Rosen; secondary: Michael Smith.

Document last updated October 2019