Ryan Ravanpak. Ph.D. Candidate

MIT Department of Philosophy

Please feel free to email me for available drafts.

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, Biological Life, and Prudential Concern

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