Paul Tulipana

Paul Tulipana

I'm currently a Postdoc in the History of Philosophy UCLA. I did my PhD at Stanford.

I mainly work on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, but I'm also interested in other parts of modern philosophy. I find myself most drawn philosophically to areas where ethical considerations interact with issues in metaphysics, epistemology, and the philosophy of language.

My dissertation is a monograph-length treatment of Kant's anti-skeptical aspirations, method, and metaphysics in the Critique of Practical Reason. I'm also working on a new interpretation of the Critique of Pure Reason's Transcendental Deduction with Dustin King. The first paper-length expressions of these larger projects are, respectively, a treatment of Kant's moral account of personality and personal identity and an essay on skepticism and the Deduction's argument (with King). A paper about the Fact of Reason is just cresting the horizon.

Research

Kant on Personality, Personal Identity, and Immortality

Abstract: In this essay, I argue that Kant holds that persons are thinking substances persisting eternally through changes of state, and accordingly that I am the same person as a thinking being P2 when I am and can become aware that I am the same persisting substance as P2. These ideas are familiar from the Cartesian and Leibnizian traditions, although Kant adopts them on the basis of a distinctive moral argument to the effect that I must be an eternally persisting substance insofar as I am obligated to promote the highest good through virtuous action. His views on the epistemology of personality are correspondingly distinctive. He thinks that I can only acquire warrant to affirm that I am a person through my awareness of the moral law in the experience of duty, and that given this warrant, I can affirm that I in state S1 am the same person as P2 in a different state S2 through my empirical awareness that the same judgmental subject "I" attaches to both states. Both affirmations are only legitimate, for him, in contexts of practical deliberation and choice.

Hume's Skepticism and Kant's Transcendental Deduction (with Dustin King)

Abstract: In the Transcendental Deduction, Kant aims to address a form of skeptical doubt about our warrant to synthetically apply the understanding's a priori categories to objects given in experience. He writes that the Deduction accomplishes this task by explaining how we could acquire such a warrant. The idea that the Deduction can provide an anti-skeptical defense of synthetic a priori knowledge merely by explaining its possibility is initially quite surprising, but it can be understood by attending to the source of skeptical doubt that it is meant to overcome—namely, Hume's argument concerning causal knowledge in the Enquiry Concerning Human Nature. Kant thinks that Hume's argument, framed in an appropriately general manner, pushes us toward skeptical doubt not just about causal knowledge specifically but about synthetic a priori knowledge as a whole. He thinks that it does this by giving us principled reason to doubt that there could be any acceptable explanation of how we have such knowledge. Thus it can be refuted, and the skeptical doubt it threatens to induce in us avoided, simply by providing such an explanation.

Teaching

Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (syllabus, updated 2019)

Kant holds that his "critical" approach to philosophy offers a middle way between familiar forms of too-ambitious rationalist thought and a skepticism born of empiricist underachievement. His middle way depends on the idea that humans are legislators, issuers of laws: in the Critique of Pure Reason, he argues that the most basic features of the world of our experience derive from laws we issue to nature.

Kant's Practical Philosophy (syllabus, updated 2017)

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. 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 thus centers on the idea of autonomy: free, principled, rational self-governance.

Hume's Ethical Thought (syllabus, updated 2019)

Hume's ethical ideas—most prominently on display in the later parts of the 1739-40 Treatise of Human Nature and in the 1751 Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals—have been profoundly influential since their inception, and continue to inspire moral philosophers today.

Early Modern Ethics (syllabus, updated 2018)

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.

Truth (syllabus, updated 2019)

What's valuable, in private life and in public, about believing and speaking the truth? What's problematic about false beliefs or speaking falsely? When and why are truth-respecting character traits—the disposition to acquire and retain true beliefs while avoiding and shedding false ones (call it Accuracy), for example, the disposition to assert only things that one actually believes (Sincerity), or the disposition to share beliefs that might be of interest to others rather than keeping them to oneself (Candor)—virtues?