PhD_position: Ethics of Persuasive Technologies

The position has been filled
The Section of Philosophy and Ethics of the Department of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) has a vacancy for a PhD in Philosophy and Ethics of Technology (1.0 fte) within the NWO-project: ‘Persuasive Technology, Allocation of Control, and Social Values – Ethical Aspects of Persuasive Technologies’.
The position is part of a larger research grant in the “Socially Responsible Innovation” program of NWO (Dutch Scientific Council) and will include researchers from psychology, philosophy and mechanical engineering.

Project description

The ethical part of the project addresses moral issues that arise when using persuasive technology. Persuasive Technologies are technologies that are intentionally designed to change the attitude and or behavior of individuals. These types of technologies raise various ethical questions, many of which have to do with a conflict between the individual values of human agents and the social values that these technologies aim to promote. The philosophical part of our research will study the ethical issues of technological ‘persuasion’. The main research question is: What are morally acceptable means of technological ‘persuasion’?

The ethical questions we consider are prompted by the technological case study, which concerns energy-saving in truck-driving. However, most of these ethical issues are of a general nature. The ethical project thus starts from the level of the concrete technological case and moves on to the level of general ethical principles and design guidelines. This will be specifically relevant for the social, political and legal aspects of persuasive technology and for the public debate about it.

Another important dimension of the project is creating and conceptualizing relationships between psychological research, philosophy and design. For this reason, candidates with an interest in philosophy of psychology or empirical philosophy are encouraged to apply.
(For more information see the extended project description: here)


The PhD student is expected to do both supervised and unsupervised research, write a PhD thesis and research papers on ethical issues regarding persuasive technologies, and participate in activities of the 3TU.Centre for Ethics and Technology. A small part of the position may involve teaching in courses offered by the section. Active cooperation in the interdisciplinary setting of the project (which involves research in psychology and mechanical engineering) is required.

• Your prior studies and current interests prepare you to do research on and write a thesis on ethical issues related to development and usage of persuasive technologies.
• In particular, you have a Master degree in philosophy, with a proven interest in ethics and technology, or a Master degree in engineering science, with a proven interest in ethical issues.
• You aspire to further academic development, you possess excellent analytical skills and you know how to make contact outside your immediate working environment.
• You must have sufficient knowledge of the English language.

Appointment and salary
We offer:
• a full-time temporary appointment for a period of 4 years;
• a gross monthly salary of € 2042 during the first year up to € 2612 during the fourth year of the appointment;
• a holiday allowance of 8% of the yearly salary and an end year allowance of 8.3% of the yearly salary;
• a PhD program of 1,000 course hours, suited to the specific needs of the candidate;


• Additional information about this position can be obtained from Dr. Andreas Spahn ( Further general information: Mrs. Caren van Overdijk ( More information about the MVI program and the research done at the Section Philosophy and Ethics of Technology may be found at:
• More information on the research at the 3TUCentre for Ethics and Technology may be found at:


Applications should be received by 21st October 2010.

You can apply online (here). Please upload your application letter with motivation for application, a recent, detailed Curriculum Vitae, names and contact details of (at least) two referees, and a sample of written work.

Interviews will be held on 29th October 2010 (expected date). As part of an equal opportunity scheme, women are explicitly requested to apply.