Paul So

Graduate Student in Residence

Office Location

South Hall 5706


Research Interests

  1. Marxism
  2. Normative Ethics: Kantian Ethics
  3. Political Philosophy: Socialist Republicanism and Kant’s political philosophy. 
  4. Meta-Ethics. 



  1. Washington Adventist University (B.A. in Philosophy & Religion)
  2. University of Maryland (B.A. in Philosophy). 
  3. Texas Tech University (M.A. in Philosophy)
  4. New York University (M.A. in Bioethics) 


I studied philosophy for at least eight years before I got accepted into UCSB's PhD program. Initially, I developed some interest in Immanuel Kant, Benedict Spinoza, and Arthur Schopenhauer, but my interests changed to Philosophy of Mind when I entered the University of Maryland, College Park. I became interested in issues such as mental causation, naturalizing mental content, consciousness, autonomy of special sciences, nativism vs. empiricism, and physicalism and continued to study my research interests at Texas Tech University for my M.A. However, at Texas Tech University I developed some interest in metaethics and normative ethics from studying Non-cognitivism and Kant's moral philosophy respectively. When I entered New York University's bioethics program I further developed my newfound interests in normative ethics and metaethics. Ever since I enrolled in UCSB I slowly became more interested in Marxism and Socialism. 
In my freetime I enjoy spending most of my time alone reading, writing, walking, and exercising. I love watching documentaries/movies/TV, browsing books in a local bookstore, visiting museums and art galleries, and strolling through downtown.  


In the past I was primarily interested in philosophy of mind and meta-ethics, but recently my philosophical interests have shifted significantly towards Marxism, Kantian Ethics, and Socialist Republicanism. My dissertation research primarily focuses on the question of whether or not Kant’s political and legal normative framework, which is to a large extent rooted in the tradition of Republicanism, would judge wage-laborers to be independent (in the Kantian sense) from domination under a capitalist mode of production. I plan to argue in my dissertation that a proletariat isn’t independent because she must sell a part of her body, in particular her labor power (her capacity to work), to a capitalist in exchange for a wage in order to survive; a part of her body (labor power) is subordinate to a capitalist’s end of profit-making. 
What contributed to such a significant shift was in fact gradual. It most likely began in 2008-2009 when the financial crisis turned into a global recession. Instead of consistently and reliably helping working class people who were most affected by the Great Recession, our government bailed out investors of wall street who were in large part responsible for the financial crisis. Witnessing this event made me doubt neoliberal capitalism, so I became attracted to social democracy as a viable alternative. However, my doubts on capitalism grew when wealth inequality exacerbated and corporations like Amazon were exploiting workers under unsafe working conditions. When another global recession occurred in 2020, due in large part to Covid-19, and our government not only failed to effectively respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, but also in the middle of the pandemic it bailed out corporations in a heartbeat while working class people were at risk of eviction and unemployment, my doubt on capitalism transformed into a rejection of it. Even when our government provided a Covid-19 stimulus and implemented an eviction moratorium, many people still suffered from evictions, unemployment, and poverty. Since the 2020 global recession, my research interests have shifted significantly to Marxism and socialism.