Ryan J. Ravanpak

I'm a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Philosophy at MIT. My research is primarily at the intersection of metaphysics and ethics. However, I also have interests in ethics of technology, aesthetics, and moral psychology. In 2020-2021, I am also a Teaching Development Fellow in the MIT Teaching + Learning Laboratory.

Before MIT, I completed a B.A. at the University of California, Berkeley. I lived at Allen Ginsberg's old cottage address, which he wrote a poem about here. In my spare time, I write long-form fiction about a devil and his houseplants. You can read the first few chapters here.

You can email me at ravanpak@mit.edu.

My CV can be found here.

Research (All Drafts Available on Request)

The Method of Difference and Causation by Absence

I argue that it is self-undermining to use the test of counterfactual difference (in which one excludes C in order to determine if it is a cause of event E) to support the thesis that omissions are causes.

Functional Continuity and You

I defend a performance-centered account of the persistence of life which says that a living being x persists as y if and only if there is intra-functional continuity between the performance of the biological functions of x and the performance of the biological functions of y. Intra-functional continuity consists of chains of appropriate causal dependence between token instances of the same function-type.

How to be Alive: Organisms, Animals, and Persons

Neo-Lockeans say we are essentially persons (P1) and that our persistence has to do with psychological continuity (P2). Animalists say we are essentially animals (P3) and that our persistence has to do with the continuity of metabolic functions (P4). (P1) and (P3) are false. (P2) and (P4) are true. I say that we are essentially organisms, contingently animals, and contingently persons.

Speaking Engagements

Guest Lecture on "Emotional Representation in Music."
Philosophy and the Arts, MIT. 2021.

"How to Be Alive: Organisms, Animals, and Persons" Comments by Sally Haslanger.
MITing of the Minds. 2021.

Guest Lecture on “Famine, Affluence, and Morality.”
Moral Problems and the Good Life, MIT. 2019.

Invited Speaker: “Meaning, Identity, Value, in Alicja Kwade’s In Between Glances.” (Draft)
LIST Visual Arts Center and Contemporary Art Museum. 2019.

Comments on “Morally Worthy Deference.”
Harvard/MIT Graduate Conference. 2019.