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, aesthetics, and moral psychology. 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. 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.

You can email me at ravanpak@mit.edu.

My CV can be found here.

Research (All Drafts Available on Request)

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 in 2020. I argue that this change in policy is not sufficiently justified by public health reasons, and furthermore threatens to reinforce stigmatization of addiction and deter those struggling with substance abuse disorder from seeking treatment.

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 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 life which says that a living thing x persists as y if and only if there is intra-functional or 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. Following a Parfitian strategy, I then suggest that our lives can extend beyond each organic body on the grounds that functional continuity can obtain across organisms.

How to be Alive: Psychological Continuity and Organism Persistence

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.

Partiality as Prudential Concern: Caring For Our Lives

Building upon the metaphysics of personal identity developed in my previous work, I argue for the normative thesis that the special reasons provided by partiality are reasons that are grounded in prudential concern. As a consequence, I suggest that we often have reasons to prefer the interests of those near us over the interests of those far away from us.

Speaking Engagements

Guest Lecture on "Behaviorism and 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.