Paul Biegler


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Personal profile


Paul Biegler is an academic, journalist and former specialist physician in emergency medicine. He is the author of The Ethical Treatment of Depression (MIT Press 2011) which won the Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Research in Ethics. In 2012 he was awarded the Media Prize of the Australasian Association of Philosophy for an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald on climate scepticism and a Radio National interview on his book.

Paul’s journalism covers health and science and includes feature articles in the Age and Sydney Morning HeraldGood WeekendAustralian Financial ReviewCosmos magazineNew Philosopher and Arena. He penned the ethics column at Cosmos alongside fellow columnists Chief Scientist of Australia Alan Finkel and noted broadcaster Norman Swan.

Paul has a Masters degree and PhD in Bioethics and held an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship and Discovery Grant (AU$450,000) between 2010 and 2014. His post-doc looked at the ethics of using subconscious persuasive techniques in the advertising of prescription pharmaceuticals. It produced the first ever study showing that “evaluative conditioning”, the use of pleasing imagery to produce positive attitudes, not only occurs with prescription medicines but causes viewers to hold more positive beliefs about a drug’s safety and effectiveness

Paul's PhD examined the moral distinctions between antidepressants and psychotherapy in the treatment of depression, concluding that doctors ought to provide evidence-based psychotherapy in all cases, on the grounds that it better promotes patient autonomy. His Masters thesis argued that patient consent should be required before doctors write a “Do Not Resuscitate” order, an issue that remains contentious. 

Paul’s academic work has appeared in the American Journal of Bioethics, British Medical Journal, Medical Journal of Australia and Journal of Medical Ethics, among others. He has published two recent book chapters under the Oxford University Press imprint; on ethical issues in psychotherapy and the treatment of depression.

In addition to research Paul also teaches health ethics to students undertaking the medical degree at Monash University.

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Research Output 1998 2017

Is Treating Depression Like Treating Appendicitis? Depression: Law and Ethics

Biegler, P., 2017, Depression: Law and Ethics. Foster, C. & Herring, J. (eds.). Oxford UK: Oxford University Press, p. 159-171 13 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


Biegler, P., 2016, Encyclopedia of Global Bioethics. ten Have, H. (ed.). Cham Switzerland: Springer, p. 451-460 10 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

Direct to consumer advertising of prescription medicines: What you don’t say counts

Biegler, P., 2016, In : Lahey Health Journal of Medical Ethics. p. 3-7 5 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Feeling is believing: Evaluative conditioning and the ethics of pharmaceutical advertising

Biegler, P. & Vargas, P., 2016, In : Journal of Bioethical Inquiry. 13, 2, p. 271-279 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Ethics of implicit persuasion in pharmaceutical advertising

Biegler, P., Kennett, J. M., Oakley, J. G. & Vargas, P. T., 2015, Handbook of Neuroethics. Clausen, J. & Levy, N. (eds.). Dordrecht The Netherlands: Springer, p. 1647 - 1667 21 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review