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LC1 Philosophy of Risk

October 31 - November 4

Actions, policies, and new technologies often pose risks. Risk is an important topic for practical philosophy in general, and applied ethics in particular. For example, it is a central concept used by those who design and regulate technology to evaluate its impact. It is a central concept with respect to health and medicine, as well as in public policymaking. The identification, assessment, evaluation, distribution, and management of risk also form an interdisciplinary domain of increasing importance and presence in the academic world. Risk is an area where philosophical reflection and ethical theorizing can make important contributions. But what are the best ways to think about risk in our ethical theorizing within the different domains where there are prominent risks involved? That is the guiding question of this course.

This course starts with the basic distinctions and key concepts within the philosophy of risk. It then considers the question of how to evaluate risks and risk-impositions. In relation to this, we will investigate how and whether the standard moral theories can adequately deal with the ethical dimensions of risks and risk-impositions. Having discussed risk in more general terms, we then turn to more specific domains where the concept of risk is important, such as the ethics of technology, bioethics, and environmental ethics. Which exact topics we will cover will depend on what guest lecturers will come and visit us. But topics are very likely to include freedom and risk, the ethics of uncertainty, and the risks associated with developing neurotechnologies. The course will also have a professional development component about writing for peer-reviewed journals.

Aim / objective

After having taken the seminar, students should be familiar with the most important concepts, distinctions, and normative principles in the philosophical literature on risk (as well as their application in some of the key sub-domains of risk research). For example, students will be familiar with different definitions of risk and uncertainty, the precautionary principle, the concept of trust, and different theories of risk management. They should be able to formulate good objections and replies to major philosophical viewpoints about risk.


The participants are expected to read all the assigned literature, to do assignments, to actively participate in the discussions and to write a paper at the end of the course.

Credit points

Study load is the equivalent of 5 ECTS.


The course is free for:

• PhD students who are a member of the 4TU.Ethics Graduate School;
• PhD students who are a member of the OZSW;
• MSc students enrolled in the PSTS master of the University of Twente;
• Research Master students who are a member of the OZSW.

Other participants pay a tuition fee of 250 euro for the course. Participants from abroad are welcome but are responsible for arranging their travel and accommodation themselves.

Registration/application form

PhD candidates can register through this registration link.

2nd year ReMa students who are interested in participating, please send an email to to be put on a waiting list. You will be notified after October 1st if you can register and join the course.

If registration has been closed because the maximum amount of participants has been reached, you can submit your name to the waiting list by sending an email to . Please also indicate whether you are a ReMa student or PhD candidate and whether you are a member of the OZSW or not.

More information

For information about the content of the course, please contact Philip J. Nickel at . Or check the OZSW website.


October 31
November 4
Event Category:


Philip Nickel
Eindhoven University of Technology


Eindhoven University of Technology
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