Philip R. Olson


Philip R. Olson

Associate Professor


333 Lane Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061


(540) 231-1119



  • Science and Technology Studies
  • Death Studies
  • Body Studies and Material Culture
  • Applied Ethics
  • Epistemology

Professional Activities

  • Board Member, Funeral Consumer’s Alliance (FCA)
  • Board Member, FCA Virginia Blue Ridge
  • Member, National Home Funeral Alliance


  • Ph. D. Emory University, Philosophy
  • M. A. Boston College, Philosophy
  • B. A. Moorhead State University, Philosophy

Research Interests

    Awards and Honors

    Excellence in Outreach and International Initiatives Award, Virginia Tech College for Liberal Arts and Human Sciences (2017)

    International Initiative Small Grant, Virginia Tech (2015)

    Finalist, University of Chicago’s Arete Initiative’s “A New Science of Virtues” Grant Competition (2009)

    Selected Publications


    Olson, Philip R. 2016. “Domesticating Deathcare: The Women of the U.S. Natural Deathcare Movement,” Journal of Medical Humanities (December): 1–21.

    Olson, Philip R. 2015. “Knowing Necro-Waste.” Social Epistemology 30(3) (May): 326–345.

    Olson, Philip R. 2014. “Flush and Bone: Funeralizing Alkaline Hydrolysis in the US.” Science, Technology, & Human Values 39(5) (September): 666–693.

    Olson, Philip R. 2012. “Putting Knowledge in its Place: Virtue, Value and the Internalism/Externalism Debate.” Philosophical Studies 159/2 (June): 241–261.

    Sponsored Research

    Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention Travel Grant, Department of Sociology, Virginia Tech

    Airing Concerns: A data-driven approach to autonomous Vehicle Technology Ethics. Competitive grant awarded by the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science and the Institute for Society, Culture and Environment, Virginia Tech

    International Travel Supplemental Grant, awarded by the Associate Vice President for Research Programs, and the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, Virginia Tech

    Additional Information

    I am currently working on two research projects: one on the burgeoning home funeral movement in the U.S., and one on drone ethics (specifically through gender and queer studies). I teach courses in Science and Technology Studies, Bioethics, Medicine in Society, and Death Studies, and I have taught numerous courses in epistemology, philosophical ethics, and philosophy of religion. I have worked with graduate students on a variety of projects, including cultural studies of diamonds, the development of space medicine, sex robots, healthcare ethics, and epistemology.

    For further information, please visit Philip Olson's personal website.  

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