Ryan Ravanpak. Ph.D. Candidate

MIT Department of Philosophy

I'm a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Philosophy at MIT. My research is primarily at the intersection of ethics and metaphysics. I also have research and teaching interests in bioethics, ethics of technology, and aesthetics. In 2020-2021, I served as a Teaching Development Fellow in the MIT Teaching & Learning Laboratory. In Summer 2021, I am serving as an Experiential Ethics Teaching Fellow (Ethics of Technology) in a program piloted by the Office of Experiential Learning at MIT. In Spring, 2022, I am serving as the Ethical Thinking Instructor for 22.S092 within the MIT Department of New Engineering Education Transformation (NEET). You can learn more about my teaching here.

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 houseplants.

You can email me at ravanpak@mit.edu.

My CV can be found here.

Research (Email For Available Drafts)

Should Suboxone Clinics Report to Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs?

Until recently, federal medical confidentially laws disallowed the reporting of prescriptions related to treatment of addiction disorders to state-managed prescription drug monitoring programs. This privacy provision was lifted at the end of 2020. I advance the thesis that this change in policy is not sufficiently justified by the public health reasons available and furthermore threatens to reinforce stigmatization of addiction.

The Method of Difference and Causation by Absence
(Under Review)

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

Functional Continuity and You

I defend a performance-centered account of the persistence of biological life which says that a living thing x persists as y if and only if there is intra-functional and inter-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. Inter-functional continuity consists in chains of appropriate causal dependence between token instances of distinct function-types.

Psychological Continuity and Biological Persistence

Parfitians 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 explain how. Then, I go on to argue that we are essentially organisms, contingently animals, and contingently persons.

Partiality as Prudential Concern About Biological Life

Building upon the metaphysics of personal identity developed in my previous work, I argue that the special reasons provided by partiality are reasons that are grounded in a certain kind of prudential concern about biological life.

Speaking Engagements

Lecture. “Stakeholder Analysis in Applied Engineering” (Forthcoming)
02/2022. Challenges in Climate and Sustainability: Decarbonizing Mongolia’s Capital City of Ulan Bator. Department of New Engineering Education Transformation, MIT

Lecture. “Conceptualizing Ethical Dimensions in Engineering” (Forthcoming)
03/2022. Challenges in Climate and Sustainability: Decarbonizing Mongolia’s Capital City of Ulan Bator. Department of New Engineering Education Transformation, MIT.

Lecture. "Behaviorism and Emotional Representation in Music."
05/2021. Philosophy and the Arts, MIT.

"How to Be Alive: Organisms, Animals, and Persons." Comments by Sally Haslanger.
01/2021. MITing of the Minds.

Lecture on “Famine, Affluence, and Morality.”
11/2019. Moral Problems and the Good Life, MIT.

Invited Speaker: “Meaning, Identity, Value, in Alicja Kwade’s In Between Glances.” (Draft)
11/2019. LIST Visual Arts Center and Contemporary Art Museum.

Comments on “Morally Worthy Deference.”
02/2019. Harvard/MIT Graduate Conference.