A philosopher of science with a focus on biology and psychology, Paul was educated at Cambridge and the Australian National University, receiving his PhD in 1989. He taught at Otago University in New Zealand and was later Director of the Unit for History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney, before taking up a Chair in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. He returned to Australia in 2004, first as an Australian Research Council Federation Fellow and from 2007 as Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney.
Paul heads the TM&B project node of the Charles Perkins Centre, a major new initiative at Sydney focused on interdisciplinary research into obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. He served as Associate Academic Director for Humanities and Social Sciences while the Centre was being established, and continues to serve on the Executive Committee as Domain Leader for Society and Environment. He is also acting in the role of Theme Leader for Politics, Governance and Ethics of Health, pending a new appointment to this position.
Paul is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He was President of the International Society for History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology from 2011-13. From 2006-12 he was a member of the Australian Health Ethics Committee of NHMRC. He spends part of each year at the University of Exeter in the Egenis: the Centre for the Study of the Life Sciences.