Steve Matthews

Senior Research Fellow
BA Hons, PhD in Philosophy (Monash University)



Steve Matthews is Senior Research Fellow at the Plunkett Centre for Ethics. He has previously worked at Macquarie University, Charles Sturt University, and Monash University, where he wrote his doctorate in philosophy on the metaphysics of personal identity and its implications for ethics. He now works mainly at the intersection of philosophy, psychology, and psychiatry, publishing widely in moral psychology, and applied ethics in relation to these areas. This research has been supported through a series of ARC-funded projects on the topics of ethics and mental illness, and of addiction, and, currently, dementia. In addition, he has published over fifty peer-reviewed articles, guest-edited a range of journal special issues, and has organized a number of workshops and conferences on these and related ethical issues.

In addition to this research Steve has been involved in a range of teaching, and leadership activities especially related to medical ethics, and more broadly research ethics. He has been an active member of ACU’s Human Research Ethics Committee for the past five years. His other miscellaneous activities include reviewing for journals, thesis examination, research presentations, and conference organization.

Teaching areas

Area of competence: metaphysics and epistemology, philosophy of mind, informal logic.

Area of specialization: Moral psychology, ethics, applied ethics, professional ethics, ethics and technology.

Selected Refereed Journal articles and book chapters

“Moral self-orientation in Alzheimer’s Dementia”. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal. 30(2), 141-166, 2020.

“Diminished autonomy, consent, and chronic addiction”. In Beyond consent: limits and alternatives to informed consent in research ethics and law. Bernadette Richards & David Kirchhoffer (eds). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2019.

“Stigma and self-stigma in Addiction,” (With Anke Snoek and Robyn Dwyer) Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 14(2), 275-286, 2017.

“The Significance of Habit,” Journal of Moral Philosophy 14 (4), 394-415, 2017.

“Dementia and the Power of Music Therapy,” Bioethics, 29, 573-9. 2015.

“The imprudence of the vulnerable,” Ethical theory and moral practice, 17, pp791-805, 2014.

“Truth, Lies and the Narrative Self,” Co-authored with Jeanette Kennett. American Philosophical Quarterly, 49 (4), 301-15, (2012)

“Anonymity and the Social Self,” American Philosophical Quarterly, 47 (4), 351-363 (2010)

“Mental Time Travel, Agency and Responsibility”. Co-authored with Jeanette Kennett. Psychiatry as Cognitive Neuroscience: Philosophical Perspectives. Matthew Broome, Lisa Bortolotti (eds.) Oxford: Oxford University Press. (2009), pp327-351.

“Normative Agency” Co-authored with Jeanette Kennett. Practical Identity and Narrative Agency, Catriona MacKenzie, Kim Atkins (eds). New York: Routledge. (2008)

“Privacy, Separation, and Control,” The Monist, vol 91 (1), 130-150 (Jan 2008)

“Delusion, Dissociation and Identity,” Co-authored with Jeanette Kennett. Philosophical Explorations VI, 31-49, (January, 2003)

“Identity, Control and Responsibility: the Case of Dissociative Identity Disorder,” Co-authored with Jeanette Kennett. Philosophical Psychology, 15, 509-526 (December, 2002)

“Unreal Friends,” Co-authored with Dean Cocking. Ethics and Information Technology, 2, 223-231 (2000)

“Survival and Separation,” Philosophical Studies, 98, 279-303, (April, 2000)


Guest editor (with Jeanette Kennett). Special issue of International Journal of Law and Psychiatry titled “Responsibility and Mental Impairment”. Volume 27, 5, September 2004

Guest editor (with Bernadette Tobin). Special issue of Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics titled “The Fragility of Human Virtue”. 37 (1) 2016

Guest editor (with Anke Snoek). Special (double) issue of Neuroethics on addiction. Vol 10 (1), 2017.

Guest editor. Neuroethics Symposium: special issue on The Biology of Desire, by Marc Lewis. Managing editor Katrina Sifferd. The Brains Blog. March 2017.

Guest editor (with Jeanette Kennett and Philippa Byers). Truthfulness in dementia care. Bioethics special issue 2021.

Grants secured

1/ 2018-2020. Australian Research Council DP 180103262. Dementia, Moral Agency and Identity: Respecting the Vulnerable.

2/ 2015-17 ACU Internal Research Program Grant (ACURF). Virtue, Reason and Justice: Integrating theory and practice (With Professor Robert Audi, Dr Stewart Braun)

3/ 2014-16 Laudel Foundation. Addiction and the will.

4/ 2010-2012 Australian Research Council DP1094144 “Addiction, moral identity and moral agency: Integrating theoretical and empirical approaches” (With Jeanette Kennett and Craig Fry).

5/ 2004-2005 (Australian Research Council Discovery Project DP0452446). The Normative Value of Unified Agency. Role: First-named Chief Investigator. (Grant with Dr Jeanette Kennett from Monash University.)


  • “The Relational Care Framework: Promoting Continuity or Maintenance of Selfhood in Person-Centred Care”. (With Matthew Tieu). Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. Forthcoming.
  • “Why should HCWs receive priority access to vaccines in a pandemic”. (With Xavier Symons (lead author), Bernadette Tobin.) BMC ethics, 22, article 79. Open Access: Why should HCWs receive priority access to vaccines in a pandemic? | BMC Medical Ethics | Full Text (
  • “The impact of dementia on the self: do we consider ourselves the same as others?”. (With Sophia Harris, Amee Baird, Jeanette Kennett and Celia Harris), Neuroethics. Forthcoming.
  • “Respecting Agency in Dementia Care: when should truthfulness give way?” (With Jeanette Kennett), Journal of Applied Ethics. Forthcoming.
  • “Habit”. International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Hugh LaFollette (ed). Wiley-Blackwell, (2021).

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