Paul Tulipana

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Hi, I'm Paul. I'm currently a lecturer in the Philosophy Department at Stanford University, where I recently completed my PhD. Next academic year, I'll be joining the Philosophy Department at UCLA as a postdoc.

I mainly work on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, but I'm also interested in other parts of early modern philosophy, in ethics, and in questions having to do with the self.

My dissertation is a monograph-length treatment of Kant's anti-skeptical aspirations, method, and metaphysics in the Critique of Practical Reason. I am also actively working on a longer piece of writing that offers a new interpretation of the Transcendental Deduction in the Critique of Pure Reason (co-authored with Dustin King), and I have paper-length treatments of Kant's account of personal identity (complete) and his account of obligation (nearly complete).

For the first five years of its existence, I was the the de facto organizer of the excellent Stanford Kant Studies Workshop.

You can contact me through Academia, through Facebook, or by email .

Research

Kant on personal identity and moral obligation

In this essay, I offer a new reading of Kant's theory of personal identity according to which he argues that in their awareness of being morally obligated, human agents are also aware of themselves as worldly free and responsible creatures with careers involving moral vocations pursued more or less successfully over time, and hence as cross-temporally numerically identical.

Download a draft of this essay here.

Teaching

Kant's Practical Philosophy

In 1781 Kant published the Critique of Pure Reason, probably the most important and influential book of philosophy of the modern period. The central idea of the first critique was that human knowledge is best understood in light of the fact that humans are legislators, issuers of laws. Kant argues there that the most basic features of the world of our experience derive from laws we issue to nature. The companion idea on the side of the practical philosophy is that human agency is best understood in light of the fact that humans issue laws to themselves. Kant's practical theory centers on the idea of autonomy—free, principled, rational self-governance. In this course, we'll consider his prolonged attempt in the 1780s and 90s to work this novel and powerful idea out. The resulting view of human practical life continues to exert a profound influence today.

I last taught this course in the in the Fall of 2017. Here's the most recent syllabus.

Kant's Critique of Pure Reason

Between the years of 1756 and 1770, Immanuel Kant published roughly twenty scientific and philosophical treatises. His philosophical texts of this period both assiduously attack central doctrines of the rationalist tradition then prominent in European thought—initiated first by RenĂ© Descartes and subsequently developed in Germany by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Christian Wolff—and offer new alternatives within that tradition.

Between 1770 and 1780, Kant published virtually nothing. After a decade of silence, in 1781 Kant published the Critique of Pure Reason, a work which he claimed would instigate a revolution in philosophy. In the book's Preface, he writes that his new "critical" approach promises to finally end the unresolvable disputes that have characterized metaphysical discourse since its beginnings. The critical philosophy will accomplish this by offering a middle way between traditional rationalist overreaching and a skepticism born of empiricist underachieving. As advertised, the Critique offers powerful arguments against the rationalist tradition, while defending the need for an a priori science of metaphysics against the empiricism advocated by various British and French philosophers.

The central idea of Kant's philosophy is that humans are legislators, issuers of laws. In the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant argues that the most basic features of the world of our experience derive from laws we issue to nature. In this course, we will grapple with Kant's attempt to think this idea through. The result is a novel and powerful philosophical picture that continues to exert profound influence on the philosophical landscape of today.

I haven't taught this one yet, but here's a prospective syllabus.

Early Modern Ethics

During the early modern period—roughly the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—established conceptions of morality as obedience to external authority came increasingly to be contested by and ultimately gave way to newly-emerging conceptions of morality as self-governance. The latter conceptions of morality and their coordinate conception of ourselves as moral agents is still influential in much of current moral thought. In this course, we investigate the circumstances under which we came to this distinctly modern way of thinking about morality and about ourselves.

I last taught this course in the Winter of 2018. Here's the most recent syllabus.

Introduction to Ethics

Today, philosophical ethics encompasses questions about moral truth, objectivity, and relativity; questions about what reasons we have to persist in acting morally; and questions about morality's substance. Examples: Are moral claims mere matters of opinion? Is morality relative? Can we argue an avowed amoralist into caring about morality? If so, how? What is morality telling us to do, anyway? How can we know that? In this course, we will make a preliminary investigation of these questions and of some important attempts to answer them. Along the way, we will consider some possible sources for skepticism about morality: What if we are, in the end, wholly selfish animals? Can the correct account of the origins of our moral beliefs ends up undermining them? Is moral enterprise hopeless if nature's course is settled in advance? In addition to better understanding these questions, we will be especially concerned to see something about how they came to seem central to the philosophical project of figuring out how to live.

I'm currently teaching this course. Here's the syllabus.

Selves

The self is the subject of experience—a unified subjective organization of thought, perception, and agency. According to (what is at least perceived as) an influential and long-lasting line of thought—attributed to Kant and the early Wittgenstein—the self is not an object among others in the world, but rather a kind of "extensionless point", something real but not spatiotemporal. This conception of the self is doubted by many contemporary philosophers. In this course, we will investigate the historical background, the basis for contemporary doubt, and the field of currently favored alternatives for conceiving of the self.

I last taught this course in the Winter of 2016. Here's the most recent syllabus, slightly updated.

Contact

You can find me at Stanford Philosophy, Academia, or email me . If for some reason you need to send me paper mail, write this on the envelope:

Paul Tulipana
Stanford University Philosophy Department
450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305
USA