PhD in Philosophy of digital technologies and the disruption of the lifeworld

PhD in Philosophy of digital technologies and the disruption of the lifeworld

Published Deadline Location
1 May 27 May Wageningen

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Job description

Do you want to follow your passion for philosophy of (digital) technology in a PhD study in our Philosophy group? Are you an openminded thinker who likes to collaborate with other researchers in an ambitious research program on the Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies? The Philosophy Group at Wageningen University seeks a talented PhD candidate for a PhD on World constituting technics: Digital technologies and the disruption of the Lifeword.

Socially disruptive technologies (SDT’s) like digital technologies (for example, AI, digital twins, social media etc.) raise societal concerns, which can be observed in concerns about surveillance capitalism, instrumentalization of production and consumption, datafication of all domains of human and non-human life etc. We can frame these concerns in terms of the social disruption of the lifeworld – i.e. the meaningful environment of everyday life experience in which we are at home and live and act together. The disruption of the lifeworld by digital technologies first of all suggests that there are general patterns that SDT’s like digital technologies have in common, and secondly that they not only have an impact on the users or consumers for instance, but have a broader impact on the lifeworld in which we live and act. The first objective of this PhD project is to reflect on the general patterns emerging from 21st century SDT’s. The second objective of this PhD project is to reflect on the socially disruptive impact of digital technologies on the datafication and denaturalization of the lifeworld, i.e. the framing of the world in terms of datasets and algorithmic computation determines increasingly human and non-human living and acting in the world and changes for example the experience of social relations, human-animal relations, and the experience of the meaning of life. To articulate a proper concept of the disruption of the lifeworld by digital technologies, the project critically build on contemporary debates in continental philosophy of technology and philosophy of innovation to develop a concept of World constitutive technics.

This PhD position will be part of the Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies programme, a ten year long international research programme of seven academic institutions in the Netherlands that has started in January 2020. This programme has a combined budget of € 27 million, and is funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research in the Gravitation funding scheme for excellent research, and by matching funds from the participating institutions. The duration is from January 2020 to December 2029. The programme has the aim of achieving breakthrough research in at the intersection of ethics, philosophy, technology / engineering and social sciences, and to position its consortium at the top of its field internationally. A key objective is to investigate how new technologies challenge moral values and ontological concepts (like “nature”, “human being” and “community”), and how these challenges necessitate a revision of these concepts. The programme includes four research lines, “Nature, life and human intervention”, “The future of a free and fair society”, “The human condition” and “Synthesis: Ethics of Technology, Practical Philosophy, and Modern Technology-Driven Societie”. For a full description of the programma and its research line:


Wageningen University & Research


The PhD project is embedded in the Philosophy Group at Wageningen University (the Netherlands) and part of the research group of prof.dr. Vincent Blok and dr. Bernice Bovenkerk. See for more information about the research projects of the group. The candidate will be supervised by prof.dr. Vincent Blok, dr. Bernice Bovenkerk and dr. Nolen Gertz.

You have:
  • a MSc degree in Philosophy with affinity with fundamental philosophy, philosophy of technology and digital technologies;
  • an excellent English language proficiency (a minimum of CEFR C1 level). For more information about this proficiency level, please visit our special language page;

You are:
  • an enthusiastic, dedicated and engaged thinker who is well capable to work in interdisciplinary contexts and willing to collaborate with technical scientists/engineers and designers, as well as a broad range of stakeholders;

Our PhD students are encouraged to spend a semester abroad. Also generous (conference) travel budgets are available for the position. Our PhD students are encouraged to supervise MSc thesis students when such opportunities arise, and you will be involved in teaching activities.

Conditions of employment

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:
  • partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.

The gross salary for the first year is € 2.770 - per month rising to € 3.539,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well.

There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “Best University” in the Netherlands for the 19th consecutive time.


Wageningen University & Research

The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. With its roughly 30 branches, 7,600 employees (6,700 fte) and 13,100 students and over 150,000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.

Read the 5 reasons why your future colleagues enjoy working at WUR and watch the video below to get an idea of our green campus!

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • P1507873-1


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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