Ryan Ravanpak | PhD

Phillips Academy at Andover
MIT Department of Philosophy

Please feel free to email me for available drafts.

"The Ethics of Prescription Drug Monitoring Technology"
(2023, Voices in Bioethics, vol 9.)

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) contain detailed information about which controlled medications physicians prescribe individuals, including where, when, how much, by whom, and more. The programs allow physicians to glimpse into the life of each patient that visits them — sometimes before a single word is exchanged between them. Every state has a PDMP, and almost all states share the data they collect through it. In this paper, I argue that prescriptions related to addiction management should be precluded from the PDMP without explicit consent from the patient.

"AI and Ethics of Technology Education"

In the philosophy classroom, ethicists often tacitly endorse what Illingworth (Approaches to Ethics in Higher Education, 2004) calls the “theoretical approach” to teaching applied ethics. This approach stresses the importance of broader ethical theory, e.g. consequentialism or deontology, and trains students to weigh the motivation of these theories against each other. Yet in the real world, innovators, designers, and computer scientists are not concerned with particular theories at all. Implicitly – for better or worse – those working in the practical sphere operate with an unrestricted or pluralistic approach – they allow room for a variety of ethical reasons to have force, and these reasons are intentionally eclectic, they fit into a wide array of different ethical theories. Take, for example, Google’s AI Responsibility Principles, or the values embedded within Salesforce’s Office of Ethical and Humane Use. This ethically unrestricted background condition exists for good reason - it demonstrates epistemic humility. In this article, I motivate the importance of this condition and tease out the consequences that follow in regards to ethics of technology education. 

"The Ethics of Organ Donation and Thoraco-Abdominal Normothermic Regional Perfusion Technology" (Shorter Analysis Piece Can Be Read Here ; Longer Analysis Piece In Progress]

Thoraco-Abdominal Normothermic Regional Perfusion (‘TA-NRP’) is a proposed method of organ retrieval that can increase both the number and quality of organs available for those in need, especially hearts. However, the procedure is controversial. Clinically, declaration of death involves either the irreversible cessation of the circulatory system or the irreversible cessation of brain activity (a legal standard established by the Uniform Determination of Death Act). Practitioners of TA-NRP begin the process of organ retrieval after determination of circulatory death of a patient. They then proceed by restoring circulatory functioning to the subject while taking direct measures to prevent this circulatory functioning from also restoring brain functioning incidentally. They then maintain that the subject is dead not on circulatory grounds but on the grounds of the cessation of brain activity - an outcome they guaranteed through ligating arteries or placing intravascular shunts. It is worried that such a practice violates the 'Dead Donor Rule' - the principle that states that donors cannot cause death and that patients cannot be made dead in order to retrieve their organs. A number of attempts have been made to alleviate the worry that TA-NRP violates the dead donor rule, including proposals by Parent et al. and Wall et al. I argue that these attempts are unpersuasive.

"Digital Privacy, Addiction, and Medicine: Weighing Societal Benefits and Personal Liberty"
(In Progress)

My previous work ("The Ethics of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs," in Views in Bioethics, v. 9) addressed a narrow question regarding the ethics of the inclusion of particular medications used for addiction management into Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Databases. In what follows, I pivot to a larger question: What makes these databases normatively permissible in the first place? I argue by way of an equivalence thesis that they  wrongfully violate rights to medical and digital privacy, and that, even if they were permissible, they would need significantly new constraints placed upon them.

"Psychological Continuity and Biological Persistence"

"A Paper About Causation"

"Functional Continuity and You"

"Partiality, Biological Life, and Prudential Concern"