Xavier Symons


Research Associate

BA Advanced Hons, MA (Research) in Philosophy (University of Sydney), currently enrolled in a PhD in Philosophy (ACU)
Email: xavier.symons@nd.edu.au

  • Biography

    Xavier Symons is a Research Associate in the Institute for Ethics and Society at University of Notre Dame Australia in Sydney. He is the convener of the Bioethics and Healthcare Ethics research program.

    Xavier’s research interests range from ethical issues at the beginning and end of life, to conscientious objection in medicine and the role of religion in medical practice. Xavier will shortly submit his PhD thesis, which focuses on the allocation of lifesaving healthcare resources.

    Xavier has taught bioethics for several years, and has worked with the Catholic healthcare sector on several projects related to ethics education. In 2018, Xavier was awarded the first annual Pellegrino Young Scholar’s Essay Prize, and award administered by the Pellegrino Centre for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown University. He was also the recipient of the 2018 Archbishop Mannix Travelling Scholarship – an award that he is using to complete a Master of Studies in Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford. From February 2016 to January 2019, Xavier was a lay member of the Austin Hospital’s Human Research Ethics Committee. He is also a regular contributor to the online bioethics news-service BioEdge.

  • Teaching areas

    • Political Philosophy
    • Bioethics
    • Catholic Social Teaching
  • Journal articles and proceedings

    • ‘Pellegrino, MacIntyre and the internal morality of clinical medicine’. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics (accepted, forthcoming).
    • ‘Rawls, Reasonableness and conscientious objection’. In Bligh Grant(ed.). Research in Ethical Issues in Organisations Volume 19: Ethics in a Fractured State. (Sydney: Emerald Publishing, 2018).
    • With Reginald Chua. ‘Organismal death, the dead-donor rule and the ethics of vital organ procurement’. Journal of Medical Ethics 44 (2018): 868-871.
    • With Natasha Michael, Julia Trimboli and Clare O’Callaghan. ‘Extending awareness of Catholic Healthcare ethics amongst junior clinicians: A qualitative study’ in Journal of Health and Religion 57;4 (2018): 1440-1450.
    • ‘The right to know vs. the right to privacy: Donor anonymity and the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Amendment Act 2016 (Vic)’, in The Medical Journal of Australia 207;9 (2017): 377-378.
    • ‘Does the doctrine of double effect apply to the prescription of barbiturates? Syme vs the Medical Board of Australia’, in The Journal of Medical Ethics 44 (2018): 266-269.
    • ‘Two conceptions of conscience and the problem of conscientious objection’, in The Journal of Medical Ethics 43 (2017): 245-247.
    • ‘Suffering, Euthanasia and Professional Expertise’, in Solidarity: The Journal of Catholic Social Thought and Secular Ethics: 6 (1) 2016, published online at http://researchonline.nd.edu.au/solidarity/vol6/iss1/5.
    • ‘On the univocity of rationality: a response to Nigel Biggar’s ‘Why religion deserves a place in secular medicine’’ in The Journal of Medical Ethics, 41 (2015): 870-872.
    • ‘A response to Robert Zuradzki’s ‘preimplantation genetic diagnosis and rational choice under risk or uncertainty’’ in The Journal of Medical Ethics 40 (2014): 779.
  • Conference papers

    • ‘Pellegrino, MacIntyre and the internal morality of clinical medicine’. 5th Annual Pellegrino Conference: Pellegrino’s Philosophy of Medicine. Levy Center, Georgetown University, 2nd March 2018.
    • ‘Rawls, Reasonableness and conscientious objection’. 24th Australian Association for Professional and Applied Ethics(AAPAE) Annual Conference: Applied Ethics in a Fractured State. University of Technology Sydney, 22nd June 2017.
    • ‘Suffering, euthanasia and professional expertise’. AABHL Conference: Bioethics and Health Law at the Intersections. Rydges Hotel, Parkville, Melbourne. 24th November 2016.
    • ‘Pascal’s Le Coeur and Aristotle’s Phronesis’, presented at the International Ethics Conference Reasons and Virtues, Australian Catholic University, 22nd May 2015.
    • A Response to Daniel Garber’s ‘Spinoza and Hobbes on Human Nature’’, presented at the University of Sydney Philosophy Department’s ‘Hobbes, Spinoza and the Creation of the State’ workshop, August 25th 2014.
    • ‘Why Ockham Cuts Himself with his own Razor, Twice!’, presented at the Australasian Association of Philosophy Conference, The Australian National University, 8th of July 2014
    • ‘Aquinas’ argument from universals to the immateriality of the soul: a reply to Pasnau’s ‘content fallacy’ critique’, presented at ‘The Soul’ conference, St. Anne’s College, Oxford, 30th June 2013.
  • In the media

    • ‘Reason we cared so much for trapped Thai boys’. The Sydney Morning Herald 18th July 2018.
    • With Reginald Chua. ‘Organismal death, the dead donor rule and the ethics of vital organ procurement’. Journal of Medical Ethics Blog, 28th June 2018.
    • ‘Does the Doctrine of Double Effect Apply to the Prescription of Barbiturates? Syme vs the Medical Board of Australia’, Journal of Medical Ethics Blog, 22nd September 2017.
    • With Udo Schuklenk. ‘Viewpoints: should euthanasia be available for people with existential suffering?, The Conversation, 6th July 2017.
    • ‘All children deserve to know who their parents are’, The Age, 2nd March 2017.
    • ‘Euthanasia and palliative sedation are distinct concepts – intent matters’, The Conversation, 15th June 2016.
    • ‘Me Before You: life, disability and ‘inspiration porn’’, The Conversation, 15th June 2016.
  • Awards

    • 2018 Annual Pellegrino Young Scholars Essay Prize (a prize administered by the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics, Georgetown University).
    • 2018 Archbishop Mannix Travelling Scholarship (a scholarship given every three years by Newman College, University of Melbourne).
    • Visiting Scholar – Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics, 2016
    • Lucy Firth Prize 2015
    • Lucy Firth Prize 2014