Paul Tulipana

Paul Tulipana

I'm currently a Lecturer at UCLA, where I just finished a two-year Postdoc. Before coming to UCLA, I did my PhD at Stanford.

I mainly work on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, but I'm also interested early 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 current work is on Kant's argumentative methodology and his response to skepticism in the first and second Critiques, on his views about self-awareness, and on his moral metaphysics and epistemology.

Research

Kant on Personality, Personal Identity, and Immortality (Review)

Abstract: In this essay, I argue that Kant holds the following claims concerning persons. First, persons are mental substances who can become consciously aware that they are. Second, a thinking being P1 is the same person as P2 when she and P2 are the same mental substance and she can become conscious of that. Third, human beings are warranted in practical contexts in affirming our personality on the basis of a moral need to alter our disposition in such a way that our actions will invariably conform to moral requirement. Fourth, we are warranted in practical contexts in thinking of ourselves as the same substance as anyone whose thoughts we remember having or whose actions we remember doing on the basis of a moral need to see our disposition as improving steadily over time. I argue along the way that Kant’s idea of the soul's immortality is entirely negative.

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

Abstract: Kant claims that in the Transcendental Deduction he proves that the understanding's a priori categories necessarily apply to objects given in experience by explaining how they could so apply. But the idea that a mere explanation of this possibility could provide a defense of the categories' actual (let alone necessary) applicability to objects is a surprising one. We argue that it can be better understood by attending to the source of the skeptical doubt that the Critique of Pure Reason's Analytic is supposed to overcome: namely, to a generalized version of Hume’s argument about causal knowledge in the Enquiry Concerning Human Nature. Kant thinks that, framed in an appropriately general manner, Hume's argument pushes us toward skeptical doubt not just about causal knowledge, but about synthetic a priori knowledge as a whole. He thinks that it does so by giving us principled reason to doubt that there could be any acceptable explanation of how concepts like Cause and Effect could apply to objects in experience. Thus it can be refuted, and the skeptical doubt it threatens to induce in us avoided, simply by providing such an explanation.

Kant and Moral Skepticism (Draft)

Abstract: In this essay, I offer a novel view about the sort of skepticism that Kant aims to address in the critical moral philosophy. Because Kant regards moral knowledge as a kind of causal knowledge, I suggest, he thinks that a version of Humean skepticism about the latter threatens moral life: skepticism, namely, about the knowledge that our wills are unconditionally necessitated, or that we are subject to obligations. I argue that this interpretive hypothesis allows us to make clear and compelling sense of the texts of both Groundwork III and the Analytic of the Critique of Practical Reason, and to see both as providing responses to moral skepticism. Among other virtues, it suggests a natural way to understand the role of the Fact of Reason in an anti-skeptical argument.

Teaching

Early Modern Ethics (syllabus, updated 2021)

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.

Kant's Practical Philosophy (syllabus, updated 2020)

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.

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.

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.

The Value of 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?