Tom Simpson is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, and a Senior Research Fellow at Wadham College. At the Blavatnik School he co-directs the Master of Public Policy, and directs the Military Leadership and Judgment Programme. His work has attracted over £1m in research and programmatic funding.

His research focuses on a variety of issues in moral and political philosophy—especially on trust; issues around technology and security, such as the ethics of autonomous weapons, cyber-attacks, and the use of unconventional force; and on the nature of freedom. On trust, he has co-edited a collection of essays, The Philosophy of Trust (Oxford University Press, 2017), and published a monograph, Trust: A Philosophical Study (Oxford University Press, 2023). 

Tom teaches on a variety of courses on the Master of Public Policy, including Foundations, a core course on questions of value that arise for policymakers, and on Policy Challenges I and II. As part of the School’s executive education, he leads sessions on Integrity in Public Life with practitioners from around the world, both senior civil servants and politicians. The quality of his teaching has been recognised with a Teaching Excellence Award by the University’s Social Sciences Division.

He has given evidence to UK Parliamentary committees on the UK’s drone policy; the balance between privacy and security in surveillance; the ethics of autonomous weapon systems; and on legislation in support of academic freedom, having co-authored an influential report on the topic, Academic freedom in the UK: Protecting viewpoint diversity (Policy Exchange 2020). This was described by the Times Higher Education as “the source for the key proposals” now enacted by the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Act 2023. He has recently started a new project, Learning from the Right, which considers what the political right does and should stand for in differing contexts globally. This is funded by the Open Society Foundations.

Between degrees he was an officer with the Royal Marines Commandos for five years, serving in Northern Ireland; Baghdad, Iraq; and Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He joined the School from Cambridge, where he was a Research Fellow at Sidney Sussex College, and was educated (BA, MPhil, PhD); and has held visiting positions at MIT and the University of Notre Dame.

Selected publications

2023Trust: A Philosophical Study. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Available on Oxford Scholarship Online)

2017. The Impossibility of Republican FreedomPhilosophy and Public Affairs 45(1): 27-53

2016. Just War and Robots' Killings (with V. Müller) Philosophical Quarterly 66(263): 302-22

See also the Faculty spotlight on Tom Simpson and Tom Simpson's Google Scholar profile.



2023Trust: A Philosophical Study. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Available on Oxford Scholarship Online)

2017The Philosophy of Trust, ed. P. Faulkner and T. Simpson. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Available on Oxford Scholarship Online)

Articles and book chapters

2024. AlphaGo’s Move 37 and its Implications for AI-supported Military Decision-Making. In Responsible Use of AI in Military Systems, ed. J. M. C. Schraagen. London: Taylor & Francis

2024. Trust and the Rule of Law. In Conversations in Philosophy, Law, and Politics, ed. R. Chang and A. Srinivasan, pp. 99-118. Oxford: Oxford University Press

  • Reply by Onora O’Neill, ‘Cultures of Trust and the Rule of Law’. In Conversations in Philosophy, Law, and Politics, ed. R. Chang and A. Srinivasan, pp. 119-128. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2024)

2023. Faith as Trust. The Monist 106(1): 83-93

2019. Freedom and Trust: A Rejoinder to Lovett and Pettit. Philosophy and Public Affairs 47(4): 412-424

2019. Restoring Trust in Finance: From Principal-Agent to Principled Agent. The Economic Record 95(311): 497-509 (G. Menzies, D. Hay, _____, and D. Vines)

2019. Locke on Trust. In Trust in Epistemology, ed. K. Dormandy, 43-63. London: Routledge

2018. Trust, Belief, and the Second Personal. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96(3): 447-459

2017. The Impossibility of Republican Freedom. Philosophy and Public Affairs 45(1): 27-53

  • Reply by Frank Lovett and Philip Pettit, ‘Preserving Republican Freedom: A reply to Simpson’, Philosophy and Public Affairs 46:4 (2018) 363-383

2017. Trust and Evidence. In The Philosophy of Trust, ed. P. Faulkner and T. Simpson, pp. 177-94. Oxford: Oxford University Press

2017. Telepresence and Trust: A Speech-Act Theory of Mediated Communication. Philosophy and Technology 30(4): 443-459

  • French translation in La confiance à l'ère numérique, ed. J. Domenicucci and M. Douehi. Editions Berger-Levrault and Editions Rue d'Ulm (2018)

2016. _____ and Vincent C. Müller. Just War and Robots' Killings. Philosophical Quarterly 66(263): 302-22

2016. The Morality of Unconventional Force. In Ethics and the Future of Spying: Technology, National Security and Intelligence Collection, ed. J. Galliott and W. Reed, pp. 132-42. London: Routledge 

2015. Testimony in John's Gospel: The Puzzle of 5:31 and 8:14. Tyndale Bulletin 65(1): 101-18

2014. Computing and the Search for Trust. In Dialogues: Trust, Computing and Society, ed. R. Harper, pp. 95-119. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

2014. The Wrong in Cyberattacks. In Ethics of Information Warfare, ed. L. Floridi and M. Taddeo, pp. 141-154. London: Springer

2013. Trustworthiness and Moral Character. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16(3): 543-57

2012. What is Trust? Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 93(4): 550-69

2012. Evaluating Google as an Epistemic Tool. Metaphilosophy 43(4): 426-45. 

Reprinted in Philosophical Engineering: Toward a Philosophy of the Web, ed. A. Monin and H. Halpin, 97-115. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell (2014)

2012. Testimony and Sincerity. Ratio 25(1): 79-92

2011. Robots, Trust and War. Philosophy and Technology 24(3): 325-37

2011. e-Trust and Reputation. Ethics and Information Technology 13(1): 29-38

Book reviews and symposia

2015. Cécile Fabre and Seth Lazar (eds), The Morality of Defensive WarPhilosophical Quarterly 65(260): 590-93

2015. Did Marine A do wrong? On Biggar's Lethal Intentions. Studies in Christian Ethics 28(3): 287-91

2013b. Critical Notice of Benjamin McMyler, Testimony, Trust, & Authority and Paul Faulkner, Knowledge on TrustMind 122(485): 305-11

Please email me for the published version if required.