Vacancy: 2 PhD positions at the Department of Technology, Policy and Management of Delft University of Technology

The Department of Technology, Policy and Management of Delft University of Technology is hiring two PhD candidates for a project on crowd-based innovations. For one of these positions, we are looking for a candidate with a background in applied ethics and affinity with technology and engineering. 


The “crowd” increasingly seems to be key for innovation in all kind of sectors, e.g. crowdfunding, open platforms, citizen initiatives for energy production, or the sharing economy. Such crowd-based initiatives provide many opportunities for innovations in socio-technical systems, but also significant challenges because they often occur in the context of traditional, well-established, institutional and governance structures and practices. In this research project we will study how to deal with the conflicts that can arise where crowd-based innovations meet existing structures. The goal is to design governance arrangements so that the power of mobilising people and organisations can be combined with legitimacy and responsible innovation. We are looking for two PhD researchers, one applying a normative perspective, and one applying an empirical perspective. The candidates will closely collaborate to combine both perspectives.

Please find the full vacancy text at:

Colloquium TU Delft: Experiments, Exploration and Robots

Departmental colloquium TU Delft, Ethics and Philosophy of Technology

Date: November 21, 2016; 15:30 – 17:00 hr.
Location: Boardroom (A1.370)

Speaker: Viola Schiaffonati, Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering, Politecnico di Milano

The debate on the experimental method, its role, its limits, and its possible applications has recently gained attention in autonomous robotics. If, from the one hand, classical experimental principles, such as repeatability and reproducibility, play as an inspiration for the development of good experimental practices in this research area, from the other hand, some recent analyses have evidenced that rigorous experimental approaches are not yet full part of the research habits in this community.

In this presentation, by investigating autonomous robotics, I will claim that the traditional notion of experimentation cannot be always applied as such to computer engineering and I will propose that the notion of explorative experiment is a good candidate to be considered in some situations. By explorative experiments I mean a form of investigation of novel and interesting ideas or techniques without the typical constraints of rigorous experimental methodologies. These are experiments that are driven by the desire of investigating the realm of possibilities pertaining to the functioning of an artefact and its interaction with the environment in the absence of a proper theory or theoretical background. Moreover, while recognizing a substantial continuity of the engineering sciences with the natural ones, I will try to show why the latter need not only an adaptation from the traditional frameworks already established in the philosophy of science (Staples 2015), but also a shift from them.

In my endeavor, I plan to move along three different but interconnected directions. The first one deals with the notion of directly action-guiding experiment, as characterizing a significant part of the experimental practice in autonomous robotics, in opposition to the one of epistemic experiment. The second direction concerns the debate around engineering epistemology, and whether adapting frameworks from the traditional philosophical debate can suffice to take into account the peculiarity of the discipline. Finally, the third direction acknowledges the empirical turn in the recent philosophy of technology, introduces the framework of technoscience as an engineering way of being in science, and invites philosophers of science to take this notion seriously in order to shed light on a range of questions that have been neglected so far.

Viola Schiaffonati is associate professor at Politecnico Milano. She got the Laurea degree in Philosophy from Università degli Studi di Milano in 1999 and the PhD in Philosophy of Science from Università di Genova in 2004. She has been visiting scholar at the Department of Philosophy of the University of California at Berkeley during the academic year 2000/01 and visiting researcher at the Suppes Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Science and Technology of the Stanford University in 2005. Currently she is associate professor of Logic and Philosophy of Science at the Dipartimento di Elettronica, Informazione e Bioingegneria of Politecnico di Milano. Her main research interests include: the philosophical foundations of artificial intelligence and robotics, and the philosophy of computing sciences and information, with particular attention to the philosophical issues of computational science and the epistemology of experiments.

Workshop at the 4TU.Center for Ethics and Technology, Delft on “Health, technology, and moralization: How are technologies influencing the moralization of health?”

Health, technology, and moralization: How are technologies influencing the moralization of health?

 Date: 2.-3.12. 2016, Delft 

The moralization of health occurs when behaviors and decisions that were previously treated as matters of preference or luck come to be subject to moral evaluation, responsibility, and blame. Moralization can also occur when a new domain of health decision-making emerges with significant moral dimensions. Technology often plays an important role in moralization by providing patients and society with new levels of knowledge and control. For instance, new imaging technologies and genetic tests for prenatal screening supply previously unavailable information to parents, introducing new contexts of morally-freighted decisions. “Lifestyle” and tracking technologies give users a wealth of data about health metrics that can transform choices about diet, exercise, sleep, etc. into moral decisions. Related phenomena include ‘responsibilization’ and its reverse: assigning responsibility for health (and other outcomes) to individuals, reducing attribution of responsibility for decisions and behaviors, or changing the sorts of decisions one is expected to make. This intensive workshop will provide significant opportunities for interaction between participants. Invited speakers include Tamar Sharon (Maastricht), Kalle Grill (Umeå), Rebecca Brown (Aberdeen), Marcel Verweij (Wageningen) and Paula Boddington (Oxford).

The workshop will consider questions such as the following:

  • Which health-related behaviors and decisions are becoming moralized, and what role(s) are technologies playing in this process? In what areas of health and in which situations are technologies un-moralizing health decisions, e.g. by freeing people from the need to make decisions that were previously treated as moral, or by transforming our perception of conditions previously treated as character flaws?
  • How does moralization relate to responsibilization? Are there ways of moralizing that go beyond or move away from attributing responsibility to individuals?
  • What is the relationship between medicalization and moralization—how does seeing something primarily as a matter of health and disease invite or hinder moralization?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of moralization in different health domains? What effects is this likely to have on the way we conceive of individual and social responsibility, blame, autonomy, justice, and on views of the good life in both the public and the private sphere?

There are a few spots available for attendees. Please register with Dr. Saskia Nagel

Vacancy: Postdoc Position on Responsible Innovation and Ethics in Industry

At the TU Delft a vacancy has opened up for a postdoc for two European project in the field of Responsible Innovation. This position is located in the Section of Ethics and Philosophy of Technology of the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Department of Values, Technology & Innovation.

3 year, 0.7 fte

Starting as of September, 1 2016

Please apply by sending a short motivation letter and a CV to Ibo van de Poel, no later than Friday, July 01, 2016.

Job interviews are (provisionally) planned for Wednesday, July 06, 2016.


We are looking for a post-doc researcher that can contribute to two European projects (PRISMA, CANVAS) in the field of responsible innovation. The majority of the activities are related to the PRISMA project (about 0.5 fte of the 0.7 fte for 3 years) . This project researches the challenges for implementing Responsible Research and innovation (RRI) in industry through a number of pilot projects in companies. The CANVAS project aims to develop a community of legal and philosophical scholars and empirical researchers to share their experience and contribute to value-driven cybersecurity.  A short summary of both PRISMA and CANVAS are provided below. The candidate will also be involved in teaching.

We look for a candidate with a PhD on a subject relevant to responsible innovation, (engineering) ethics or corporate social responsibility. Apart from having good academic qualifications, as proven for example by a PhD thesis and scientific articles, the candidate should be willing and able to engage with industry, be well-organized and be able to keep deadlines. The position will allow you to expand your international network, and to work on academic publications and teaching in a stimulating academic environment.

Main activities

For PRISMA project (0.5 fte):

  • Contribute to inventory of RRI tools that can be used in industry
  • Investigate how companies can integrate RRI in their CSR (corporate social responsibility) policies and activities
  • Support of pilots with RRI at various companies (including spending some time for participatory research at companies)
  • Contribution to evaluation of pilots with RRI at companies
  • Writing reports and deliverables
  • Participation in project meetings etc.


For CANVAS project (0.1 fte):

  • Write a deliverable with a comprehensive review on the discussion of ethical aspects regarding cybersecurity (literature study)
  • Participation in project meetings etc.

Teaching (0.1 fte):

  • Involvement in regularly engineering ethics teaching of the Section of Ethics and Philosophy of Technology



There is now only limited experience with RRI in industry and there is also limited evidence of the added value of opening up the innovation process in industry for social engagement and gender considerations. We will overcome these current limitations by carrying out eight RRI pilot projects in a real-world industry context. To establish the added value of the RRI approach and the gender dimension in and for industry, we will assess the pilot projects on a number of product and process RRI dimensions and compare the score of the pilots on the relevant RRI dimensions with the score of similar projects in the same companies in which the RRI approach has not been followed. We focus on implementing RRI for some of the major technological challenges in the EU including nanotechnology, synthetic biology, Internet of Things and self-driving or automated cars. These are all transformative technologies that have the potential to transform existing modes of production and to change the relation of the company with users, suppliers or other stakeholders. The pilots aim at integrating RRI in the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) policies of the participating companies. Some pilots will take place in private companies and some in public-private partnerships (PPPs). The project will be supported by extensive stakeholder consultations and dialogues. These will feed into the set-up and the carrying out of the pilots. The project will result in a RRI-CSR roadmap for transformative technologies. The roadmap will be widely disseminated through  the partners’ extensive industry network, and through industry branch and CSR organizations. An important means of dissemination will also be the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on RRI in industry. The dissemination is expected to lead to a better uptake of RRI approaches by industry. This will also contribute to the competiveness of the European industry.



The growing complexity of the digital ecosystem in combination with increasing global risks entail the danger that enforcing cybersecurity may bypass other fundamental values like equality, fairness or privacy, whereas downplaying cybersecurity would undermine citizens’ trust and confidence in the digital infrastructure. Technology developers as well as legal and philosophical scholars and empirical researchers have dealt for many years with cybersecurity issues, although from very specific angles. What is missing is community-building that unifies these perspectives from the presupposition that technology development in cybersecurity should incorporate European values and fundamental rights. Constructing this community – an alliance for value-driven cybersecurity – is the central aim of the CANVAS consortium. CANVAS consists of partners from different scientific traditions – ethical, legal, empirical and technological – with unique competences and broad contact networks such that they can serve as “seed crystals” for community-building. The consortium will take three domains of application with unique value-profiles and complementing cybersecurity exigencies – the health system, finance, and police / national security – as starting point for outlining problems related to value-driven cybersecurity. Using a three-step process, CANVAS will (1) structure existing knowledge, (2) design a network for exchanging knowledge and generating insights across domains, and (3) disseminate the insights gained through three means: A reference curriculum for value-driven cybersecurity with a focus on industry-training, briefing packages for policy stakeholders, and a MOOC (massive open online course) on value-driven cybersecurity. Furthermore, the alliance that should result from this community-building will allow for self-organization among alliance members for tackle specific research questions that emerge out of knowledge exchange in future proposals.


About the faculty, department and section

The Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management contributes to sustainable solutions for technological challenges in society by combining insights from engineering with the humanities and social sciences. The Faculty is equipped with excellent research and teaching facilities.
The Department of Values, Technology and Innovation (VTI) is one of three departments in the TPM Faculty. It uniquely comprises philosophers, economists and risk scholars. It studies how to develop and diffuse responsible technological innovations that reflect deeply held social and moral values. The department is one of the largest groups in the world studying value aspects, economics and risks for a wide range of sociotechnical systems. The department plays a leading role nationally and internationally in research in responsible innovation and value-sensitive design.
The Ethics and Philosophy of Technology section is one of three sections within the VTI Department. The section plays a central role worldwide in research on ethics and philosophy of technology. The group participates in the 3TU.Centre for Ethics and Technology, a centre of excellence and the world-leading centre in the ethics of technology. The group’s research covers a broad spectrum, ranging from applied research in collaboration with engineering scholars, experimental and empirical ethics in collaboration with social scientists, and foundational research in meta-ethics, risk theory, ontology and philosophy of science and design.


Conference: How can resilient infrastructures contribute to social justice?

Conference “How can resilient infrastructures contribute to social justice?” 

Taking place 2nd of June 2016 at Technical University Delft.

In the last decade, resilience has become a leading paradigm for thinking about risks and safety threats, ranging from climate change and natural hazards to threats related to economic crises, migration, and globalization. Resilience roughly refers to the capacity of a system to respond to and recover from threats and it is often thought to contribute to a better – that is, a safer and more just – society. However, this claim is not uncontroversial. Some also argue that the resilience paradigm primarily benefits the people who are already quite well-off at the expense of disadvantaged groups. The focus in this workshop is on the relation between resilience, technology, and social justice. By bringing together different disciplines, we hope to shed light on the question how resilient infrastructures can contribute to social justice.


The session is a co-production by Delft Deltas Infrastructures & Mobility Initiative (DIMI) and the 3TU.Centre for Ethics and Technology – 3TU.Ethics brings together the expertise of the philosophy departments of the three Dutch technical universities in the field of ethics of science, technology and engineering.




Chaired by Neelke Doorn (TU Delft)


14:30     Welcome with coffee and tea

15:00     Opening by Prof. Marcel Hertogh (DIMI/TU Delft) – chair of ‘Infrastructure Design and Management of Civil Infrastructures’

15:10     Speakers:

Lecture by Prof. Paolo Gardoni | University of Illinois (USA) – “Introduction Resilient infrastructures & social justice”

15:40     Lecture by Prof. Tina Comes | University of Agder (Norway) – “How can ICT and information systems contribute to resilience?”

16:05     Lecture by Dr. Johan Bergström | Lund University (Sweden) – “Societal resilience as a discursive object”

16.30     Panel discussion, led by Neelke Doorn

17:00     Drinks



Symposium: ethics & how to involve the public in long-term radioactive waste management

The Netherlands faces a challenge: a permanent solution for the disposal of radioactive waste has to be found. Even though the national government has time, it should take action right now. During this symposium, a fruitful discussion arose among a variety of stakeholders and interested people, about the ethics and challenges of involving the general public in decision-making about long-term radioactive waste management.

Decision-making about long-term radioactive waste management is characterized by technical uncertainties, a very long time horizon, ideas of the public, political preferences, international influences and ethical concerns. What are the ethical issues of long-term radioactive waste management and what is the role of the public in the associated decision-making process? Both the Rathenau Instituut and the TU Delft recently published about this topic and jointly organized a symposium that took place on Wednesday October 28 at the Koninklijke Schouwburg in The Hague.


Photo by Rathenau Instituut








Kick-off of the symposium

Melanie Peters, director of the Rathenau Instituut, kicked off the day by welcoming the variety of people attending the symposium. Her message was clear: we need to have a dialogue about long-term radioactive waste management in order to form a complete picture of the issue, which in turn should form the foundation of future policy. Following Melanie Peters, every EU member state is obliged to formulate a national program for the long-term radioactive waste management For the Netherlands, the Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection (ANVS coordinates this national programme). Marco Brugmans, director of the ANVS, emphasized that the Netherlands has the time (approximately 100 years) to prepare the route to disposal because at the moment, it has a unique and safe central storage. This also means that the ANVS has the opportunity to do it carefully. To do so, the ANVS will set up an advisory group consisting of all stakeholders to do so. The outcome of the symposium will provide an important starting point for this advisory group a unique opportunity to exchange ideas with regard to long-term radioactive waste management.

The remainder of the day was divided in two parts: the first part of the day was about public participation and the associated Rathenau Instituut publication ‘Enabling Participation’ and the second part of the day was about the ethics of nuclear energy, inspired by two publications of the TU Delft, the book ‘The Ethics of Nuclear Energy. Risk, Justice and Democracy in the post-Fukushima Era’ and the volume ‘The socio-technical challenges of Nuclear Energy Production and Nuclear Waste Management‘ of the Journal of Risk Research.

Rathenau Instituut: public participation


Since public participation is part of the national program the Dutch government is in need of insights on how to involve the public in the debate: at what stage should public participation come in and in which form? The Rathenau Instituut, commissioned by the ANVS, looked into this complex question by organizing focus groups, in-depth interviews and a literature study. Annick de Vries, project leader, explained that trust and willingness are key to the success of a participatory approach. The findings of their report show that both trust in the central government and collective willingness to participate are currently limited; therefore steps must be taken to ensure those conditions. The general public should also not be the only party to participate: the government, stakeholders and the scientific community are also important to consider. The participation itself should be organized by using issue-based participation clusters (this concept is based the idea that the degree of participation, the method of participation and associated participants of decision-making about an issue of radioactive waste management may differ).


Time for a discussion!


For a panel discussion Ansi Gerhardsson (Swedish Radiation Safety Authority), Matthew Cotton (University of Sheffield), Anne Bergmans (University of Antwerp) and Arnoud van Waes (Rathenau Instituut) were invited. They were all assigned a statement about public participation and radioactive waste management. Anne Bergmans was asked if she thought it is effective to jointly design a process of public participation, in order to get shared acceptance. She wondered: acceptance of what exactly? It is not a matter of acceptance, but it is rather about ownership of the problem. Another question was if the existing ministries and authorities are e right ones in organize to organize public participation. According to Ansi Gerhardson we are all actors with different roles, we need to define those roles and not limit ourselves to one body. Matthew Cotton argued that the discussion about (public participation on) radioactive waste management is separate from the decision about the future of nuclear energy. We can talk about toxic waste without talking about nuclear energy but we cannot talk about nuclear energy without discussing toxic waste as well. Finally, Arnoud van Waes concurred with the statement that we have enough time ahead of us for the planning, but he emphasized the urgency of starting the preparations right now. We have to reflect upon the agenda and start learning from how other countries deal with for example the site selection. These statements of course provoked a more interactive form so they were evaluated in Open Space group discussions.


Photo by Rathenau Instituut








TU Delft: The ethics of nuclear energy


According to Behnam Taebi (TU Delft), who kicked-off the second part of the day, public participation to increase acceptance is necessary but not enough. We are now looking into multinational solutions for radioactive waste management. Those advocating multinational solutions argue that they should be accepted by the local community. Social acceptance is necessary but not sufficient when proposing multinational repositories. They need to be ethically acceptable. These and many other ethical aspects associated with nuclear energy production and radioactive waste management are at the heart of  two recent publications of TU Delft, namely an edited book on ‘The Ethics of Nuclear Energy’ (Cambridge University Press) and a special issue of Journal of Risk Research on ‘The socio-technical Challenges of Nuclear Energy Production and Nuclear Waste Management’. Involving the public is also about building sustainable relations with future communities according to Anne Bergmans. Any decision on long-term management – including decision not to act – has implications for communities where waste is currently being produced, treated, and (temporarily) stored. It is about the ownership of the problem. Ibo van de Poel proposed another understanding geological disposal, we should treat nuclear energy production and radioactive waste management as a social experiment, an idea that was contested by Charles McCombie (Executive Director of Arius Association) during the discussion. In debating the moral acceptability of nuclear energy technologies and radioactive waste management, we should take into account their uncertain and partly experimental nature. Finally, Sabine Roeser introduced the notion of emotions in risk communication. Emotional responses in decision making about nuclear waste disposal are not signs of irrationality, rather, they can point to important ethical considerations that should be taken seriously.

Facing the future: nuclear waste is here to stay!


Nuclear energy seems to be expanding, so is the radioactive waste problem. In dealing with radioactive waste management we might have the time, but we should also start taking action right now. Ansi Gerhardsson, head of section of the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, also stressed the importance not to delay the decision-making process about radioactive waste, in order to foster societal acceptance for the decisions to be taken.

All the related questions such as the moral acceptability and public participation, but also practical matters such as site selection are rather complex issues. In this symposium we had a fruitful discussion with people from different backgrounds and from different countries. Hans Codée (former Covra director) appreciated the fact that the symposium was not only about technocratic opinions, but also about influences from the social sciences. He hopes this approach will be exemplary for authorities and ministries.

Melanie Peters concluded the day with “radioactive waste is here to stay, so will the discussion about it” and her hope that the ANVS will take up the challenges that were discussed during the day.

With more questions about the ethics of nuclear energy, do not hesitate to contact the TU Delft. With more questions about involving the public in radioactive waste management, do not hesitate to contact the Rathenau Instituut.

Photo by Rathenau Instituut

Photo by Rathenau Instituut








Vacancy: postdoc philosophy and innovation in developing countries (closed)

Postdoc position philosophy and innovation in developing countries (0,8 fte; 22 months) (application deadline 15/11/2015)

The Centre for Frugal Innovations in Africa (CFIA), a research centre of Leiden University, Delft University of Technology and Erasmus University Rotterdam seeks to fill a postdoc-position for research on Frugal Innovations and Responsible Entrepreneurship: Case Studies in the Water and Health Sectors in East Africa. This project is funded and supported by the Netherlands Scientific Research Organization (NWO) and three private partners, Philips N.V., OASEN and Hatenboer-Water BV.

The full text can be found here:

3TU.Ethics member involved: Neelke Doorn.