PhD position in Reconceiving rights, duties and well-being

PhD position in Reconceiving rights, duties and well-being

Published Deadline Location
13 May 6 Jun Enschede

Job description

Project context

Recent work in philosophy and critical social sciences (e.g., Flanagan 2016) highlights a deep-rooted emphasis on individualist moral values and conceptions of human wellbeing within Western cultures. These values, supported by a range of technologies improving personal choice, are increasingly under scrutiny in the face of the grand challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, and AI-induced social disruption. In light of these challenges, the pursuit of unbridled material accumulation in the service of maximizing individuals’ preference-satisfaction and/or hedonic wellbeing looks increasingly questionable. In the fields of political economy and political ecology, technology-induced conceptual changes which go beyond the individualist paradigm are well underway. New concepts such as “degrowth” (Hickel 2020; D’Alisa, Demaria and Kallis 2015) and “post-consumerism” (Cohen, Stejnwald Brown and Vergragt 2017) have been developed to meet the environmental challenges caused by industrial technologies and the possibility of an automated world without work. Pluralistic conceptions of environmental values have also been proposed, drawing upon Indigenous traditions (Escobar 2020) and relational practices of care for nature. These conceptual innovations open a path beyond the liberal consumerist ethos which is threatened by the ecological and technological challenges of our time (and which, arguably, contributed to the emergence of those challenges). As such, there is societal pressure to revise a wide range of normative concepts bound up with Western individualism, and to examine how technologies can support or undermine such conceptual change.

The challenge

Are similar conceptual innovations that go beyond individualism needed in the domain of moral philosophy? Is there a need to revise individualist conceptions of moral rights and duties, of the determinants of human wellbeing, and of meaning in life? What is the role of technology in supporting this conceptual change, if various technologies have partially constituted the liberal consumerist ethos? These are the questions to be addressed in this PhD project. Grounded in moral philosophy, this wide-ranging project may involve the examination of alternative value systems that emphasise communitarian values (MacIntye 1981), relational conceptions of wellbeing and sustainability (Pascual et al. 2023), and the value of non-human nature (Taylor 1986). It may also draw on intercultural perspectives on human wellbeing (Angle 2022), and intercultural as well as Indigenous environmental philosophies (Nelson 2020; Callicott 1994). In addition, this project may choose to engage with the philosophical foundations of scientific approaches to human wellbeing (Alexandrova 2017).


University of Twente (UT)


We are looking for a highly motivated, enthusiastic researcher who is driven by curiosity and has/is:
  • A Master’s degree or equivalent in Philosophy with a specialization in moral philosophy;
  • Affinity and/or experience in environmental philosophy, intercultural philosophy, the philosophy of well-being and/or philosophy of technology;
  • A good team spirit and like to work in an interdisciplinary and internationally oriented environment;
  • Able to do independent research and willing to develop writing and publication skills;
  • Possess good communication skills and an excellent command of English.

Conditions of employment

We encourage a high degree of individual autonomy and independence, while also encouraging collaboration with colleagues, researchers, other university staff and partners. Our terms of employment are set by the Dutch Collective Labour Agreement for Universities (CAO). Our offer contains: a fulltime 4-year PhD position with a qualifier in the first year; excellent mentorship in a stimulating research environment with excellent facilities; and a personal development program within the Twente Graduate School. It also includes:
  • Gross monthly salary of € 2.770 in the first year, increasing each year up to € 3.539 in the fourth year;
  • Excellent benefits including a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%, and a solid pension scheme;
  • 29 holidays per year in case of full-time employment;
  • A training programme as part of the Twente Graduate School where you and your supervisors will agree on a plan for a suitable education and supervision;
  • A green campus with free access to sports facilities and an international scientific community;
  • A family-friendly institution that offers parental leave (both paid and unpaid);
  • Full status as an employee at the UT, including pension, health care benefits and good secondary conditions are part of our collective labour agreement CAO-NU for Dutch universities.

The preferred start date is October 1st, 2024, but we are willing to discuss later or earlier start dates.


The philosophy section is internationally leading in the philosophy and ethics of technology ( The section also participates in the interuniversity 4TU.Center for Ethics and Technology ( Both the section and the Center have a strong international orientation and include members from many different nationalities.

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. 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.

Additional information

Are you interested to be part of our team? Please submit your application no later than the 6th of June 2024 and include:
  • A cover letter (maximum 2 pages A4), emphasizing your specific interest, qualifications, and motivations to apply for this position;
  • A Curriculum Vitae, including a list of all courses attended and grades obtained, and, if applicable, a list of publications
  • Contact information for two academic references;
  • A writing sample (e.g. Master’s thesis/chapter) that reflects your suitability for this position

Additional information about this position can be acquired from dr. Dominic Lenzi (


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • 38—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1786


University of Twente (UT)

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Drienerlolaan 5, 7522NB, Enschede

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Application procedure

Application procedure

Make sure to apply no later than 6 Jun 2024 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam).