MA (Melb) MEd (Melb) PhD (Cantab)
Bernadette Tobin is director of 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.
Areas of competence: philosophy of education, philosophy of religion, ethics, bioethics
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
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
BA Adv. Hons, MA (Res.), PhD
Dr. Xavier Symons is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Plunkett Centre for Ethics, ACU, and an Adjunct Lecturer in the Institute for Ethics and Society, UNDA.
Xavier’s research interests include ethical issues at the beginning and end of life, conscientious objection, ethical issues in aged care, and pandemic ethics. His recently completed PhD thesis focused on the allocation of lifesaving healthcare resources.
Xavier has taught bioethics for several years, and has worked with Catholic healthcare providers on several projects related to ethics education. In 2020, Xavier was awarded a Fulbright Future Postdoctoral Scholarship, and he will be a scholar in residence at Georgetown University's Kennedy Institute of Ethics from February to August 2021.
More information: https://xaviersymons.com/
Area of competence: bioethics, political philosophy, medieval philosophy, Catholic social teaching
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.
Area of competence: metaphysics and epistemology, philosophy of mind, informal logic.
Area of specialization: Moral psychology, ethics, applied ethics, professional ethics, ethics and technology.
“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. http://philosophyofbrains.com/2017/03/30/neuroethics-symposium-special-issue-on-the-biology-of-desire-by-marc-lewis.aspx
Guest editor (with Jeanette Kennett and Philippa Byers). Truthfulness in dementia care. Bioethics special issue 2021.
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.)
MB BS, PhD, GradDipPallMed, FRACP, FJFICM, FAChPM
Honorary Fellow, Australian Catholic University
Part-time Member Administrative Appeals Tribunal
Deputy Convenor and Consultant to NSW Child Death Review Team
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Sydney
Conjoint Associate Professor, University of Western Sydney
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Tasmania
STB (CIS), MA (Cantab), PhD (Leuven)
Vicar General, Archdiocese of Sydney
Research Associate, Part time
Member of Council and Deputy Chair, St John’s College, University of Sydney
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