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John Donnelly, PhD

Professor, Philosophy

John Donnelly has been a member of the faculty since 1976.  He has served as Chair of the Philosophy Department, and currently is a coordinator of the Catholic Studies minor.  He initiated the multiple offerings of interdisciplinary value courses at USD.  Professor Donnelly is a past President of the Soren Kierkegaard Society.  He has a broad range of philosophical interests, and has published in several areas of philosophy, including logic, epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and ethics.  At USD, he has team-taught courses with colleagues in biology, theology, and nursing, as well as some cluster preceptorial classes.


Professor Donnelly earned his bachelor’s degree from the College of the Holy Cross, an M.A. in philosophy from Boston College, and his A.M. and Ph.D. in philosophy from Brown University.

Scholarly and Creative Work

Professor Donnelly has edited and contributed to a number of books including: Logical Analysis and Contemporary Theism, Conscience, Language, Metaphysics, and Death, Reflective Wisdom: Richard Taylor on Issues that Matter, and Suicide: Right or Wrong?  He has also written for and edited some USD publications on Catholic Studies workshops.  In addition, he has contributed articles to a variety of other books, and has published articles in such philosophy journals as Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic, Nous, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Religious Studies, International Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophia, International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion, and Philosophical Books.  A number of his articles (especially on Kierkegaard’s “teleological suspension of the ethical” and Donnelly’s arguments against suicide) have been widely discussed in the academic literature.  Professor Donnelly’s most current research interests center on philosophical puzzles in eschatology, esp. the notion of a heavenly resurrection world.

Teaching Interests

Professor Donnelly has taught a variety of courses at USD ranging from freshmen preceptorials to upper-division capstone courses.  More recently, his courses have centered on “Death and Dying,” “Philosophy of God,” and core courses in Catholic Studies, the latter involving cross-disciplinary work in history, sociology, theology, and cultural studies.  Professor Donnelly is also a former recipient of USD’s University Professor recognition award.