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Catherine Nolan, Ph.D.

Catherine Nolan is currently working on issues in the intersection of metaphysics and bioethics.  She is particularly interested in applying the concepts and arguments of the Christian metaphysical tradition to contemporary problems.  Her dissertation, entitled “The Ethics and Metaphysics of Vital Organ Donation,” was a defense of the claim that death is a metaphysical event, unable to be determined purely scientifically.  This makes the diagnosis of death much more uncertain.  If we attempt to justify vital organ donation by claiming that the donor is dead, we are often being misleading or dishonest.  Instead, she suggests that we should focus on not killing the donor, treating those who may be dead as though they are still alive. 

Dr. Nolan taught several sections of Philosophy of the Human Person at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, and taught introductions to philosophy as well as courses in bioethics and philosophy of religion at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Areas of Expertise

Philosophy of Religion


Ph.D., Philosophy, State University of New York at Buffalo, 2015
M.A., Philosophy, Franciscan University of Steubenville, 2010
B.A., Philosophy, Literature, Ave Maria College (Michigan), 2006 

Selected Publications

Catherine Nolan, "The Metaphysical Irreversibility of Death," The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, vol. 45, no. 6, December 2020, pp. 725-741.

Catherine Nolan, "Augustine and the Pursuit of Knowledge during a Crisis," Biblioteca della Libertà, vol. 55, no. 228, May-August 2020.


  • "Organ Donation and Beliefs about Death” at the Center for Body, Mind, and Culture 2015 Conference at Florida Atlantic University, FL
  • “Back for Seconds? How Death is Irreversible” at the 2014 International Association for the Philosophy of Death and Dying Conference at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, CA
  • “Van Inwagen's Composite Objects and the Irreversibility of Death” at the 2014 Eastern Regional Meeting of the Society of Christian Philosophers, Niagara Falls, NY
  • “Irreversibility in Criteria for Death” at the 2014 Graduate Student Conference on Biomedical Epistemology and Bioethics at the University of Miami in Miami, FL
  • “A Defense of an Elitist Virtue Ethics Within a Christian Framework” at the 2014 National American Catholic Philosophical Association Meeting in Washington, D.C.
  • “Dead or Dying: Autonomous and Ethical Irreversibility in Vital Organ Donation” at the 2014 Conference on Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology at the University of Texas at Dallas, in Dallas, TX
  • “Suárez on the Evil of Death” at the 2013 Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy & Society for the Study of Islamic Philosophy and Science Meeting at Fordham, in New York City, NY