William E. Stempsey, S.J.

Philosophy Department


Ph.D., Georgetown University
M.D., State University of New York at Buffalo School of Medicine

Fields: philosophy of medicine, medical ethics, moral philosophy

• CV (PDF) »

Email: wstempsey@holycross.edu
Office Phone: 508-793-2469
Office: Smith 521
PO Box: Ciampi
Office Hours:




William E. Stempsey.  Disease and Diagnosis: Value-Dependent Realism.  Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1999.  Paperback edition, 2000.

William E. Stempsey, editor.  Elisha Bartlett’s Philosophy of Medicine.  Dordrecht: Springer, 2005.

Journal Issues

William E. Stempsey, editor.  Institutional Identity and Roman Catholic Hospitals.  Christian Bioethics, vol. 7, no. 1, 2001.

William E. Stempsey, editor.  Jesuit Education and the Ratio Studiorum.  Fundamental Questions: A Journal of the Liberal Arts, vol. 1, no. 1, 2004.

William E. Stempsey, section editor.  Medical Humanities.  Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, vol. 10, no. 4, 2007.

William E. Stempsey, editor.  Clinical Reasoning: New Challenges.  Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, vol. 30, no. 3, 2009.

Book Chapters

William E. Stempsey.  “This Cancer’s My Punishment, Isn’t It?—Guilt, Shame and Medicine.” In Philosophy for Medicine: Applications in a Clinical Context.  Edited by Martyn Evans, Pekka Louhiala and Raimo Puustinen, 47-62. Oxford: Radcliffe Medical Press, 2004.

William E. Stempsey.  “Forming Physicians for the Poor: The Role of Medical and Premedical Education.”  In The Role of Jesuit Health Sciences Education Programs in Promoting Justice: An Invitation to Discussion.  Edited by Jos V.M. Welie and Judith Lee Kissell, 131-151.  Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 2004.

William E. Stempsey.  “A Philosophical Dissection of a Jesuit Scholar.”  In Jesuit Postmodern: Scholarship, Vocation, and Identity in the 21st Century.  Edited by Francis X. Clooney, S.J., 45-63.  Lanham: Lexington Books, 2006.

William E. Stempsey.  “Commentary: The Medicine of Philosophy.”  In Practicing Catholic: Ritual, Body, and Contestation in Catholic Faith.  Edited by Bruce T. Morrill, Joanna E. Ziegler, and Susan Rodgers, 270-273, 313.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

William E. Stempsey.  “Heterologous Embryo Transfer: Metaphor and Morality.”  In The Ethics of Embryo Adoption and the Catholic Tradition.  Edited by Sarah-Vaughan Brakman and Darlene Fozard Weaver, 25-41.  New York: Springer, 2007.

Reference Work Articles

William E. Stempsey.  “Medical Humanities.”  In Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics, vol 3.  Edited by Ruth Chadwick, 90-98.  San Diego: Academic Press, 2012.

William E. Stempsey. “Applying Medical Knowledge: Diagnosing Disease.”  In Handbook of the Philosophy of Medicine.  Edited by Thomas Schramme and Steven Edwards, chapter 31-1. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer, 16 July2015. DOI 10.1007/978-94-017-8706-2_31-1 (Online continually updated reference work).

Articles (Peer-Reviewed)

Mark L. Graber, Richard H. Quigg, William E. Stempsey and Steven Weis.  “Spurious Hyper­chloremia and Decreased Anion Gap in Hyperlipidemia.”  Annals of Internal Medicine 98 (Part 1) (1983): 607-9.

Cynthia A. Needham and William Stempsey.  “Incidence, Adherence, and Antibi­otic Resistance of Coagulase-Negative Staphylo­coccus Species Causing Human Disease.”  Diagnostic Microbi­ol­ogy and Infectious Diseases 2 (1984): 293-99.

William E. Stempsey.  “The Virtuous Pathologist: An Ethical Basis for Labora­tory Medicine.”  American Journal of Clinical Pathology 91 (1989): 730-38.

William E. Stempsey.  “Another Look at Physician-Assisted Suicide.”  Journal of Pastoral Care 48 (1994): 215-21.

Robert M. Veatch and William E. Stempsey, “Incommensurability: Its Implications for the Patient/Physician Relation.”  Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 20 (1995): 253-69.  Reprinted in James Lindemann Nelson and Hilde Lindemann Nelson, eds., Meaning and Medicine: A Reader in the Philosophy of Health Care (New York and London: Routledge, 1999), 95-105.

William E. Stempsey.  “Paying People to Give Up Their Organs: The Problem with Commodification of Body Parts.”  Medical Humanities Review 10 (Fall 1996): 45-55.

William E. Stempsey.  “End-of-Life Decisions: Christian Perspectives.”  Christian Bioethics 3 (1997): 249-61.

William E. Stempsey.  “Laying Down One’s Life for Oneself.”  Christian Bioethics 4 (1998): 202-224.

William E. Stempsey.  “Causation and Moral Responsibility for Death.”  The Paideia Archives, Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 4 (1998): 171-176.  http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Bioe/BioeStem.htm.

William E. Stempsey. “The Quarantine of Philosophy in Medical Education: Why Teaching the Humanities May Not Produce Humane Physicians.”  Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 2 (1999): 3-9.

William E. Stempsey.  “A Pathological View of Disease.”  Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 21 (2000): 321-330. 

 William E. Stempsey, “Organ Markets and Human Dignity: On Selling Your Body and Soul.”  Christian Bioethics 6 (2000): 195-204. 

William E. Stempsey, “Plato and Holistic Medicine.”  Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 4 (2001): 201-209.

 William E. Stempsey, “Institutional Identity and Roman Catholic Hospitals,” Christian Bioethics 7 (2001): 3-14.

William E. Stempsey. “Miracles and the Limits of Medical Knowledge.”  Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 5 (2002): 1-9.  Russian translation (Чудеса и границы медицинского знания) posted at http://www.psyobsor.org/1998/15/1-1.php

Bettina F. Piko and William E. Stempsey. “Physicians of the Future: Renaissance of Polymaths?”  Journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health 122 (2002): 233-237.

William E. Stempsey. “A New Stoic: The Wise Patient.” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 29 (2004): 451-472.

William E. Stempsey. “The Philosophy of Medicine: Development of a Discipline.”  Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 7 (2004): 243-251.

William E. Stempsey. “Religion, Philosophy, and the Commodification of Human Body Parts.” DePaul Law Review 55 (2006): 875-888.  Excerpted in Janet L. Dolgin and Lois L. Shepherd, eds., Bioethics and the Law, 2d ed. (Austin: Aspen Publishers, 2009), 102-104.

William E. Stempsey.  “The Geneticization of Diagnostics.” Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 9 (2006): 193-200.

William E. Stempsey.  “Emerging Medical Technologies and Emerging Conceptions of Health.” Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 27 (2006): 227-243.

William E. Stempsey.  “Spontaneous Human Combustion and Other Imaginary Maladies.”  Interfaces 26 (2006-2007): 111-122.

William E. Stempsey.  “Medical Humanities: Introduction to the Theme.”  Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 10 (2007): 359-361.

William E. Stempsey.  “Medical Humanities and Philosophy: Is the Universe Expanding or Contracting?”  Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 10 (2007): 373-383.

George R. Hoffmann and William E. Stempsey.  “The Hormesis Concept and Risk Assessment: Are There Unique Ethical and Policy Considerations? Human and Experimental Toxicology 27 (2008): 613-620.

William E. Stempsey.  “Philosophy of Medicine Is What Philosophers of Medicine Do.”  Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 51 (2008): 379-391.

William E. Stempsey.  “Clinical Reasoning: New Challenges.”  Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 30 (2009): 173-179.

William E. Stempsey.  “The Role of Religion in the Debate about Physician-Assisted Dying.” Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 13 (2010): 383-387.

William E. Stempsey.  “Religion and Bioethics: Can We Talk?” Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 8 (2011): 339-350.

William E. Stempsey.  “Bioethics Needs Religion.” American Journal of Bioethics 12 (2012): 17-18.

William E. Stempsey. “Death and the Paradox of Blessing and Burden.”  Theoretical and Applied Ethics 2 (2013): 115-119.

William E. Stempsey.  “Hope for Health and Health Care.”  Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 18 (2015): 41-49.

William E. Stempsey.  “The Penetrating Gaze and the Decline of the Autopsy.”  AMA Journal of Ethics 18 (2016): 833-838.

William E. Stempsey. “Reconciling Reductionistic and Holistic Theories of Health with Weak Emergence.” Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy 20 (2018): 29-33.

William E. Stempsey. “Homo religiosus: The Soul of Bioethics.” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 46 (2021):238-253.

Articles (Other)

William E. Stempsey.  “The Big Blue Van and the Little Children.”  America 168, no. 9 (March 13, 1993): 8-12.

William E. Stempsey.  “The Battle for Medical Marijuana in the War on Drugs.”  America 178, no. 12 (April 11, 1998): 14-16.

William E. Stempsey.  “No Biblical Warrant for Suicide.” Ethics & Medics 24, no. 6 (June 1999): 1-2.


Ronald H. Ng, William Stempsey and Bernard E. Statland.  “Biphasic Profile in the Elimina­tion of Digoxin from Serum after a Massive Overdose.”  Clinical Chemistry 29 (1983): 393-94.

William E. Stempsey. “Difficulties of Describing an Ethic in a Polyglot Nation: The Author's Reply.” American Journal of Clinical Pathology 93 (1990): 165-66.

William E. Stempsey. “Procedural Safeguards for Euthanasia.” New England Journal of Medicine 327 (1992): 201.

Book Reviews

William E. Stempsey.  BioEngagement.  Making a Christian Difference through Bioethics Today, edited by N. M. de S. Cameron, S. E. Daniels, and B. J. White.  Grand Rapids, Michigan, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2000.  Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 5 (2002): 96-97.

William E. Stempsey.  Transplantation Ethics, by Robert M. Veatch.  Washington, D.C., Georgetown University Press, 2000.  Theological Studies 63 (2002): 413-415.

William E. Stempsey.  God and the Embryo: Religious Voices on Stem Cells and Cloning, edited by B. Waters and R. Cole-Turner. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. 2003.  Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 7 (2004): 356.

William E. Stempsey.  Ethics and the Metaphysics of Medicine: Reflections on Health and Beneficence, by Kenneth A. Richman.  Cambridge: MIT Press (2004).  Philosophy of Science 73 (2006): 125-127.

William E. Stempsey.  The Ethics of Bioethics: Mapping the Moral Landscape, edited by Lisa A. Eckenwiler and Felicia G. Cohn.  Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press (2007).  Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 29 (2008): 121-124.

William E. Stempsey.  The Ignatian Adventure: Experiencing the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius in Daily Life, by Kevin O’Brien, S.J.  Chicago: Loyola Press (2011).  Conversations No. 46 (Fall 2014): 41.

William E. Stempsey.  Flourishing: Health, Disease, and Bioethics in Theological Perspective, by Neil Messer.  Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans (2013).  Journal of Religion 95 (2015): 574-575.

William E. Stempsey. The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Medicine, edited by Miriam Solomon, Jeremy R. Simon, and Harold Kincaid. New York and London: Routledge (2017). Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 38 (2017): 495-499.