PhD on AI and freedom, social justice or democracy

PhD on AI and freedom, social justice or democracy

Published Deadline Location
4 Jul 16 Aug Eindhoven

Job description

  • Are you interested in promoting human freedom, social justice or democracy in the design, development and use of AI systems?
  • Are you fascinated by how AI systems can and should shape the future of work and democracy?
  • Are you looking for a PhD in applied ethics of technology, working at the intersection of the ethics and politics of AI?
  • Are you eager to work on a PhD that connects philosophy with the design and governance of AI systems?

This is a four-year, fulltime, fully funded PhD position in ethics and philosophy of technology. You are expected to develop an original research project on one ethical or political issue related to the impact of AI systems on human freedom, social justice or democracy. Possible research questions include but are not limited to:
  • How to connect democratic theories in political philosophy and theories and practices to engage and empower citizens and communities in technological design (e.g. critical design and design justice)?
  • How to define and promote a just transition to a future of work mediated by digital technologies, and how to do so in the light of people's differences in body, gender, culture, value attributed to work etc.?
  • How to make sense and prevent algorithmic domination (in the workplace) and how to protect workers'/people agency and autonomy by design, for instance by giving them 'meaningful human control' over the systems?
  • How to make sense of and address the exploitation of users' online activities, and protect people from the domination of private corporate interests in the digital spaces?
  • How to make sense of and address issues of epistemic injustice in the interaction with AI systems (in specific domains)?
  • How to make sense of and address so-called 'responsibility gaps' in the interaction with AI systems (in specific domains)?
  • What should be the role of aesthetic engagement - e.g. through performative arts - in the ethical and political engagement with technological development of students and citizens? and which other experimental forms of education and ethical/political engagement with (AI) technologies should we develop?
  • How to make sense of and achieve (democratic) control over AI systems in sensitive domains such as the defence and military domain, and how can (AI) technologies be developed and used to promote international law and global justice?

You will be embedded within the Philosophy & Ethics group in the Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Innovation Sciences at TU/e. Philosophy & Ethics at TU/e is a vibrant international community, consisting of around 30 members with research interests ranging from philosophy of science and technology to ethics and the philosophy of AI. We have strong cooperation with other departments and the Eindhoven Artificial Intelligence Systems Institute (EAISI). TU/e is part of the 4TU Ethics consortium, (comprised of TU/e, Delft, Twente, and Wageningen), where we cooperate closely on research and education of students.

You will work under the direct supervision of Prof. Filippo Santoni de Sio.


Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)


  • Master's degree or equivalent degree in moral or theoretical philosophy, with a demonstrable interest in (AI) technologies. Other Master's degrees will also be considered, for instance in science and technology studies, engineering, computer science, law, if you have demonstrable expertise in conceptual and philosophical problems.
  • Strong conceptual and analytic skills.
  • Capacity or willingness to learn to work across disciplinary boundaries, and to engage with literature and researchers in design studies, computer science, organisational studies, law, psychology or other disciplines relevant for your research project.
  • Relative to experience, excellent research skills and excellent academic writing and presentation skills.
  • Ability to work both independently and as part of a team.
  • Fluent in spoken and written English (C1 level).

Conditions of employment

A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university, in an interdisciplinary setting and within an international network. You will work on a beautiful, green campus within walking distance of the central train station. In addition, we offer you:
  • Full-time employment for four years, with an intermediate evaluation (go/no-go) after nine months. You will spend 10% of your employment on teaching tasks.
  • Salary and benefits (such as a pension scheme, paid pregnancy and maternity leave, partially paid parental leave) in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, scale P (min. €2,770 max. €3,539).
  • A year-end bonus of 8.3% and annual vacation pay of 8%.
  • High-quality training programs and other support to grow into a self-aware, autonomous scientific researcher. At TU/e we challenge you to take charge of your own learning process.
  • An excellent technical infrastructure, on-campus children's day care and sports facilities.
  • An allowance for commuting, working from home and internet costs.
  • A Staff Immigration Team and a tax compensation scheme (the 30% facility) for international candidates.

Additional information

About us
Eindhoven University of Technology is an internationally top-ranking university in the Netherlands that combines scientific curiosity with a hands-on attitude. Our spirit of collaboration translates into an open culture and a top-five position in collaborating with advanced industries. Fundamental knowledge enables us to design solutions for the highly complex problems of today and tomorrow.

Curious to hear more about what it's like as a PhD candidate at TU/e? Please view the video.


Do you recognize yourself in this profile and would you like to know more?
Visit our website for more information about the application process or the conditions of employment, or contact HR Services (

For queries about this PhD position, you can also contact Prof. Filippo Santoni de Sio,

Are you inspired and would like to know more about working at TU/e? Please visit our career page.


If you are interested, we invite you to submit a complete application by using the apply button (onthe online job portal of the TU/e).
We do not accept applications sent by e-mail. You can only upload a maximum of 5 documents of 2 Mb each. If you have more than 5 documents, you will need to combine them.

The application should include:
  • Cover letter in which you describe your motivation and qualifications for the position (max two pages).
  • Curriculum vitae, including a list of your publications and the contact information of three references.
  • Brief description of your master's thesis (max one page).
  • One-page statement elaborating on your first ideas for this project.
  • Writing sample, e.g. a thesis chapter, a (published) article.

We look forward to receiving your application before August 16 and plan to interview selected candidates in the first half of September. The vacancy will remain open until the position is filled.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • V39.7599


Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)

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De Rondom 70, 5612 AP, Eindhoven

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Application procedure

Application procedure

Make sure to apply no later than 16 Aug 2024 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam).