Professor Eric Matthews is an Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and is currently an Honorary Research Professor of Medical and Psychiatric Ethics. He studied both as an undergraduate and a postgraduate at Oxford, but his career has been spent mainly in Aberdeen, apart from two visiting appointments at universities in the United States.
Eric Matthews’ main research interests lie in two areas: the philosophy and ethics of medicine, especially psychiatry; and twentieth century French philosophy. He is an internationally recognized figure in the rapidly expanding field of the philosophy of psychiatry, in which he continues to publish and to speak at international conferences. In the last few years, he has given invited papers at conferences in Finland, Sweden, Germany, France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Italy, South Africa, U.S.A., New Zealand, and the UK, and has been a keynote speaker at a workshop organised by the Wellcome Trust on the ethics of psychiatry. He is a member of the National Committee of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Philosophy Special Interest Group, and of the Steering Committee for the International Network for Philosophy and Psychiatry.
Recent publications in this field include: "Mental and Physical Illness: An Unsustainable Separation?" (in Eastman and Peay (eds), Law without Enforcement, Oxford, Hart Publishing, 1999); "Moral Vision and the Idea of Mental Illness" (PPP:Philosophy, Psychiatry, Psychology, 6, 4, 1999); "Autonomy and the Psychiatric Patient" (Journal of Applied Philosophy, 17, 1, 2000); "Personal Identity and Mental Health" (in Thomasma, Weisstub and Hervé (eds), Personhood and Health Care, Dordrecht, Kluwer, 2001); "How can a mind be sick?" (in Fulford, Sadler and Stanghellini (eds), Nature and Narrative (Oxford, OUP, 2003); "Merleau-Ponty’s Body-Subject and Psychiatry" (International Review of Psychiatry, 16, 2004);" The relevance of phenomenology", PPP: Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology, 12, 3, 2005, pp. 205-207; "Dementia and the Identity of the Person", in Hughes et al., (eds), Dementia: Mind Meaning and the Person, OUP 2006; "Suspicions of Schizophrenia" (in Chung et al. (eds), The Philosophical Understanding of Schizophrenia, OUP, 2007); "Is Autonomy Relevant to Psychiatric Ethics?" (in Nys et al (eds), Autonomy and Paternalism, Leuven, Peeters, 2007);a monograph Body-Subjects and Disordered Minds, Oxford, OUP, 2007; "Against definition", PPP: Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology, 16, 1, 2009, pp.53-57;and "Explaining addiction", PPP: Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology, 17, 1, 2010, pp.23-26. A publication of related interest is his book Mind, in the "Key Concepts in Philosophy" series published by Continuum Press (London and New York, 2005).A conference is being organised in Aberdeen in October 2011, by the Royal College of Psychiatrists Philosophy Special Interest Group, to honour Eric Matthews' contribution to the field of philosophy of psychiatry. The theme of the conference will be "Mental Health and the Human Good"
In the broader field of medical ethics, recent research activities include participation in two research groups on the ethics of communicating genetic information, funded by the Wellcome Trust; acting as ethical advisor to a research project on data management committees; and co-directing an international and interdisciplinary research project on ethical and policy issues in the forthcoming crisis of aging. The outcome of the last-named project was a report, which has been published by the Nuffield Trust, the funders of the project (Eric Matthews and Elizabeth Russell, Rationing Medical Care on the Basis of Age: The Moral Dimensions, Oxford/Seattle, Radcliffe Publishing, 2005). Professor Matthews is currently a member of an interdisciplinary research group based at the University of Nottingham, working on ethical, social and legal issues connected with personality disorder, and of a Swedish group concerned with the ethics of dementia care.
His interest in modern French philosophy is centred above all on three authors, Bergson, Sartre and Merleau-Ponty. His recent publications in this area include: Twentieth Century French Philosophy, published by OUP in 1996; The Philosophy of Merleau-Ponty, published by Acumen Publishing in 2002; "Bergson’s Concept of a Person" (in John Mullarkey (ed), The New Bergson, Manchester UP, 1999); "Temporality, Subjectivity and History in Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology" (Philosophical Inquiry, Vol. XXI, 1999); "Maurice Merleau-Ponty" (in Companion to Modern French Thought, Routledge, 2004); "Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception" (in J. Shand (ed), Central Works of Philosophy, Vol. 4, Acumen Publishing, 2006); and Merleau-Ponty: A Guide for the Perplexed (Continuum Press, 2007).