Three PhD Positions in History and Philosophy of Physics, Biology and Science

Three PhD Positions in History and Philosophy of Physics, Biology and Science

Published Deadline Location
26 Mar 22 Apr Utrecht

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An exciting opportunity to be part of an ERC project on the legacy and contemporary relevance of Niels Bohr. Interested? Join our team!

Job description

In these PhD positions you will join Guido Bacciagaluppi and postdocs Diana Taschetto and Stefano Furlan on the ERC Advanced Grant for the project ‘BOHR21: Niels Bohr for the 21st Century’.

Your job
Bohr has been hugely influential both in physics and outside physics, but he is also largely misunderstood, partly because a few of his writings have been overstudied at the expense of many others. This ERC project is devoted to his philosophical legacy. It will establish an unprejudiced understanding of Bohr, building on a current revival of interest in Bohr’s ideas in the philosophy of physics, and extending it among other things to his wider influence in other scientific disciplines, specifically in biology, and on general debates such as on science and objectivity.

As a PhD candidate, you will focus on one of the three main areas of the project: philosophy of physics, philosophy of biology or general philosophy of science. You will be largely free to choose among the many subprojects of BOHR21, such as clearing away the positivist cobwebs from Bohr’s image in the philosophy of physics, investigating Bohr’s influence on organicism in theoretical biology, or exploring potential uses of Bohr’s notion of complementarity in contemporary debates in philosophy of science (e.g. on emergence and reduction).

Moreover, you will:
  • typically spend a few weeks in Copenhagen every year for research in the Niels Bohr Archive;
  • help organise seminars in Utrecht and workshops and conferences in Utrecht and Copenhagen;
  • (co-)author a number of papers on the topics of the project.

We will make extensive use of historical resources, especially those in the Niels Bohr Archive in Copenhagen, integrating historical and philosophical methods, and we will liaise with the ROTO research project led by Jan Baedke in Bochum. Utrecht has a long tradition of research in the history and philosophy of science and is concurrently hosting also Abigail Nieves Delgado’s NWO Vidi grant on microbiome research and race and Niels Martens’ ERC Starting Grant on philosophy of cosmology.


Utrecht University


We are looking for an enthusiastic colleague with the following qualifications:
  • a Master's degree in a relevant subject, for instance in history or philosophy of physics or of biology, or in general philosophy of science, and ideally a strong interest in both philosophy and history;
  • a strong interest in collaborative team research and in developing your own research and teaching skills;
  • an excellent command of the English language, and either a working knowledge of other languages relevant to the project (principally Danish and German) or the willingness to teach yourself those languages as needed.

Conditions of employment

We offer:
  • an exciting research environment as part of the History and Philosophy of Science group in the Freudenthal Institute and of the Descartes Centre;
  • a position for 4 years;
  • a gross monthly salary ranging from €2,770 in the first year to €3,539 in the fourth year in the case of full-time employment (salary scale P under the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU);
  • 8% holiday pay and 8.3% year-end bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave and flexible terms of employment based on the CAO NU.

In addition to the terms of employment laid down in the CAO NU, Utrecht University has a number of schemes and facilities of its own for employees. This includes schemes facilitating professional development, leave schemes and schemes for sports and cultural activities, as well as discounts on software and other IT products. We also offer access to additional employee benefits through our Terms of Employment Options Model. In this way, we encourage our employees to continue to invest in their growth. For more information, please visit Working at Utrecht University.


Universiteit Utrecht

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major strategic themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Pathways to Sustainability. Sharing science, shaping tomorrow.

At the Faculty of Science there are 6 departments to make a fundamental connection with: Biology, Chemistry, Information and Computing Sciences, Mathematics, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Physics. Each of these is made up of distinct institutes that work together to focus on answering some of humanity’s most pressing challenges. More fundamental still are the individual research groups – the building blocks of our ambitious scientific projects.

You will work at the Utrecht Science Park in a shared office in the Freudenthal Institute, which includes our History and Philosophy of Science group as well as mathematics and science education and communication. The HPS group is one of the largest of its kind in Europe, and is responsible for one of the largest international HPS Master's programmes in Europe. You will be part of a vibrant and diverse community. Activities involve weekly Freudenthal Research Seminars and regular seminars in philosophy of science, philosophy of physics and other specific topics.

You will furthermore be a member of the Descartes Centre for the History and Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, an overarching platform with members from all faculties of the University. Besides the monthly Descartes Colloquium, the centre funds several visiting fellowships each year, summer schools, and more.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 3751



Budapestlaan 6, 3584CD, Utrecht

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