Bernadette Tobin
MA (Melb) MEd (Melb) PhD (Cantab)


Bernadette Tobin is an Associate Professor within the Plunkett Centre for Ethics at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, and Reader in Philosophy at Australian Catholic University. She previously taught philosophy at Mercy Teachers’ College in Melbourne and English at Tottenham Technical School in Melbourne. She has been the recipient of an Australian Post-Doctoral Research Scholarship.

Bernadette has Honorary Appointments in the Medical Faculties of both the University of New South Wales (via the Clinical School at St Vincent’s) and the University of Sydney (via the Clinical School at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead). She is a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Her philosophical interests are in medical ethics, political philosophy, philosophy of religion and philosophy of education.

Bernadette has served on various committees and boards associated with medical practice, in particular the Australian Health Ethics Committee (a principal committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council) and the Garvan Medical Research Institute. She chaired the Council of St John’s College in the University of Sydney from 2013 to 2020.

In 2016 she was appointed an Officer in General Division of the Order of Australia. In 2017 she was appointed a Dame Grand Cross in the Order of St Gregory the Great.

Teaching areas

Areas of competence: philosophy of education, philosophy of religion, ethics, bioethics

Selected Refereed Journal articles

  • Is it justifiable to compel performance by a doctor in violation of conscience? Australasian Catholic Record, January 2019
  • Female Genital Mutilation and the role of health-care practitioners (with David Isaacs), Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 53, 2017
  • Human vulnerability in medical contexts (with Steve Mathews). Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, 37, 2016.
  • When doctors and parents disagree. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 50, 2014
  • Religious Perspectives on Umbilical Cord Blood Banking (with Jordens, C et al) Journal of Law and Medicine, 19; 2012.
  • Spinal muscular atrophy: do the benefits of ventilation compensate for its burdens? (with Gray, K; Isaacs, D; Kilham, H;) Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 49, 2013
  • Peters’ Theory of Moral Development, J Phil Educ, 1989. 23, 1
    An Aristotelian Theory of Moral Development, J Phil Educ, 1989. 23, 2


Guest editor (with Steve Matthews). Special issue of Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, 2016

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