Paul Tulipana

Paul Tulipana

I lecture in Philosophy at the University of California, Riverside. I did my PhD at Stanford and a postdoc at UCLA. I also lectured for a year at the department of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology at UCLA.

I mainly work on ethics and on the history of ethics. I'm especially interested in philosophy of Immanuel Kant, but I'm also actively interested other early modern and nineteenth century thinkers. I often find myself drawn to areas where ethical considerations interact with issues in metaphysics, epistemology, and the philosophy of language.

My current research concerns Kant's argumentative methodology and his response to skepticism in the first and second Critiques, his views about practical forms of self-awareness, and his moral metaphysics and epistemology.

Research

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


Kant's on Personality and Personal Identity (Review)


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.

Current Courses

Kant and Hume's Ethics (Spring 2024 Syllabus)

Medium-depth introduction to the ethical theories of David Hume and Immanuel Kant. Both Hume's ethical ideas and Kant's have been profoundly influential since their inception, and continue to inspire moral philosophers today. In this course, we'll get behind the surface of these two important ethical theories, thinking through in some detail the pictures of human practical life on which they rest and rely.

Biomedical Ethics (Spring 2024 Syllabus)

Ethical topics in medicine and research in the biological and medical sciences. Is abortion morally permissible? Is physician-assisted suicide? Should parents be able to select for or against genetic traits in their children? May we use emergent gene-editing technologies to alter the set of genes available to future generations of human beings? When, if ever, is the use of animal and human subjects in biomedical research permissible?

Upcoming Courses

Past Courses

Ancient Ethics (syllabus, updated 2024)

Intensive study of some topics of ancient Greek ethics: responsibility, shame and guilt, virtue and moral education, justice, beauty, and wisdom. Special emphasis on how the most important and influential philosophers of classical Greece shaped our ethical environment, for better or worse; and on the role that these thinkers assigned to friendship and love in ethical life.

Introduction to Philosophy (syllabus, updated 2024)

What are truth, reality, rationality, and knowledge? Is there one truth or many? Does science tell us everything there is to know? Is faith rational? Should we always be rational? Can our minds be purely physical? Do we have free will? Are there moral truths? How can such questions be answered?

Value Theory (syllabus, updated 2023)

How do ethical considerations and motives contribute to the structure of our lives? What is the source or ground of these considerations and motives? Are they relative to individuals or to cultures, or are they the same for everybody? What is morality telling us to do, anyway?

Philosophy of Language (syllabus, updated 2023)

Speakers of a language understand the expressions of that language—they know what those expressions mean. But what is linguistic meaning and how do we know it, when we do? Some of our course’s questions: How do we refer to things? Is referring to things all that language does? Is what a bit of language refers to settled by something in the mind of the referrer? (If not, by what?) How is a sentence related to its meaning? What is a sentence meaning? (Is it just the sentence itself? Is it anything at all?) What is the relationship between what a sentence means and what a person means in uttering the sentence? How is sentence meaning related to truth?

The Value of Truth (syllabus, updated 2022)

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?

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.