Paul Tulipana

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Hi, I'm Paul. I'm currently a postdoc in the History of Philosophy in the Philosophy Department at UCLA. Previously, I was a lecturer in the Philosophy Department at Stanford University, where I also did my PhD.

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 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 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

In the Preface to the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant writes that his new "critical" approach to philosophy promises to end the disputes, once and for all, that have characterized metaphysical discourse since its beginnings. He will accomplish this feat by carving out a "middle path", avoiding both traditional forms of rationalist overreaching and the familiar form of skepticism born of empiricist underachievement. As advertised, the Critique offers powerful arguments against the (Leibnizian-Wolffian) rationalist tradition while simultaneously defending the need for an a priori science of metaphysics against the empiricism advocated by various British and French philosophers.

Kant's middle way depends on the thought that humans are legislators, issuers of laws: in the Critique, Kant argues that the most basic features of the world of our experience derive from laws we issue to nature. In this course, we grapple with his 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 last taught this course in the Summer of 2018. Here's the most recent 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 Academia or email me .