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Philosophy of Risk – OZSW & 4TU.Ethics course

October 26, 2020 - October 30, 2020

TU Eindhoven (@TUeindhoven) | Twitter

The Dutch Research School of Philosophy (OZSW) and Eindhoven University of Technology invite PhD students and ReMa students in philosophy to register for the course Philosophy of Risk to take place from 26-30 October 2020.

Organizing university Eindhoven University of Technology


Date(s) 26-30 October 2020

Location Eindhoven University of Technology, Atlas Building. Please note that there will also be an option to attend the course digitally.

Type of activity 5-day seminar course (digital and in-person hybrid) 5 ECTS

Primary target group PhD students

If places available, also open to 2nd year ReMa students


Application/registration deadline Application Deadline 15th September


About the topic

Actions, policies, and new technologies are often probabilistically linked with particular outcomes in more or less predictable ways. Some of these outcomes are of a negative nature. They are considered as risks associated with the actions, policies, or technologies in question. 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 a number of 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 risk literature (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 seminar will take place over the course of one week in Eindhoven, with morning and afternoon sessions devoted to different aspects of the topic. There will presentations by the course coordinator and a number of guest lecturers. There will also be student presentations, discussions of all the topics covered, and joint analysis of the course literature.



Sven Nyholm (Utrecht), Philip Nickel (TU/e), Wybo Houkes (TU/e), Kritika Maheshwari (Groningen), and others


Required preparations

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.


Certificate / credit points

For this course PhD students and ReMa students can earn a certificate after successful completion. Please note, however, that the OZSW is not accredited to reward students with credits/ECTS directly. The study load is mentioned on the certificate, which can usually be exchanged for ‘real’ credits (ECTS) at your home university. For more info please see


Costs 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. Foreign participants are welcome, but are themselves responsible for arranging their travel and accommodation in Eindhoven.


How to apply / register: Please use the official form to register before 1 October 2020. You can find the official form here.



Philip J. Nickel, Department of Philosophy and Ethics, Eindhoven University of Technology

Sven Nyholm, Department of Philosophy, University of Utrecht


Contact info

For information about the content of the course, please contact


October 26, 2020
October 30, 2020
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