Dr.Nyholm, S.R. (Sven)

Utrecht University
Section: Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies

Biomedical Ethics
Deep Brain Stimulation
Visiting address

Janskerkhof 13, room 1.08

Mail address

Universiteit Utrecht, Janskerkhof 13, 3512 BL, Utrecht




Sven Nyholm is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Ethics at the Eindhoven University of Technology. He received his PhD from the University of Michigan in 2012. His dissertation, on Kant’s ethics, was awarded the Proquest Distinguished Dissertation Award. A revised version of it, with the title Revisiting Kant’s Universal Law and Humanity Formulas, was published in book form by De Gruyter in 2015. Before joining the faculty at TU/e in 2015, Nyholm was a wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter at the University of Cologne in Germany during three years (2012-2015).

Nyholm’s main areas of research are applied ethics (especially the ethics of technology), ethical theory, and the history of ethics. More specifically, he has recently published on love-relationships and biomedical enhancements, motivation-enhancements, self-driving cars, sex robots, deep brain stimulation, happiness and well-being, meaning in life, and interpersonal respect and moral reasoning. His articles have appeared in general philosophy journals, ethics journals, and bioethics journals (including Journal of the American Philosophical Association, European Journal of Philosophy, Metaphilosophy, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, Journal of Applied Ethics, The Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, etc.). Nyholm has also tried his hand at experimental philosophy, resulting in a co-authored article (on happiness) that appeared in the first volume of the Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy. His second book, Humans and Robots: Ethics, Agency, and Anthropomorphism (Rowman & Littlefield International), is about the ethics of human-robot interaction, and will appear in 2020.

Currently, Nyholm is working on the ethics of automated driving, human-robot collaboration, deep brain stimulation (including its effect on the self), the ordinary concept(s) of “true love”, and disability and the goods of life. Together with organizational psychologists Pascale Le Blanc and Sonja Rispens, Nyholm is also currently conducting an NWO-MVI project on robots in the workplace and their effects on human well-being and meaningful work. This project has two postdocs: Jilles Smids (ethics and philosophy) and Hannah Berkers (psychology). More info here: https://ethicsandtechnology.eu/spotlight/tu-e-researchers-dr-sven-nyholm-dr-pascale-le-blanc-and-dr-sonja-rispens-project-working-with-or-against-the-machine-optimizing-human-robot-co/



Humans and Robots: Ethics, Agency, and Anthropomorphism, London: Rowman & Littlefield International

Can a Robot be a Good Colleague? (co-author: Jilles Smids), Science and Engineering Ethics

It Loves Me, It Loves Me Not: Is It Morally Problematic to Design Sex Robots that appear to “Love” Their Owners? (co-author: Lily Frank), Techné

Robots in the Workplace: A Threat to – or Opportunity for – Meaningful Work?, (co-authors: Jilles Smids and Hannah Berkers), Philosophy & Technology

Disability and the Goods of Life (co-authors Stephen M. Campbell and Jennifer Wright), Journal of Medicine and Philosophy

Automated Cars Meet Human Drivers: Responsible Human-Robot Coordination and The Ethics of Mixed Traffic (co-author: Jilles Smids), Ethics and Information Technology


Other Minds, Other Intelligences: The Problem of Attributing Agency to Machines, Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics

Is being “Paid to Endure” Compatible with Autonomy? Paid Research Participation and Five (Rather than Four) Goods of Work (co-author: Jilles Smids), American Journal of Bioethics


Attributing Agency to Automated Systems: Reflections on Human-Robot Collaborations and Responsibility-Loci, Science and Engineering Ethics

The Ethics of Crashes with Self-Driving Cars: A Roadmap I, Philosophy Compass

The Ethics of Crashes with Self-Driving Cars: A Roadmap II, Philosophy Compass

Teaching and Learning Guide for “The Ethics of Crashes with Self-Driving Cars: A Roadmap, I-II”, Philosophy Compass

Pettit on Love and Its Value: A Critical Assessment, Moral Philosophy and Politics

Is the Personal Identity Debate a “Threat” to Neurosurgical Patients? A Reply to Müller et al., Neuroethics

The Quantified Relationship (co-authors: John Danaher & Brian Earp), American Journal of Bioethics

The Benefits and Risks of Quantified Relationship Technologies: Response to Commentaries (co-authors: John Danaher & Brian Earp), American Journal of Bioethics


From Sex-Robots to Love-Robots: Is Mutual Love with a Robot Possible? (co-author: Lily Frank) in J. Danaher & N. McArthur (Eds.) Robot Sex: Social and Ethical Implications, MIT Press

Deep Brain Stimulation, Authenticity and Value: Further Reflections (co-author: Elizabeth O’Neill), Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics

Robot Sex and Consent: Is consent to sex between a robot and a human conceivable, possible, and desirable? (co-author: Lily Frank) Artificial Intelligence and Law

Do We Always Act on Maxims? Kantian Review

Review of Iddo Landau, Finding Meaning in an Imperfect World (co-author: Stephen M. Campbell) (Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews)

Review of Clark et al. (Eds.), The Ethics of Human Enhancement: Understanding the Debate (co-author: Stephen M. Campbell) (Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews)


The Normative and Evaluative Status of  Moral Distress in Health Care Contexts, American Journal of Bioethics

The Ethics of Accident-Algorithms for Self-Driving Cars: An Applied Trolley Problem? (co-author: Jilles Smids) Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 

When is Deep Brain Stimulation a Medical Benefit, and What is Required for Consent? (co-author Stephen M. Campbell) AJOB Neuroscience

Deep Brain Stimulation, Continuity over Time, and the True Self, (co-author: Elizabeth O’Neill), Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 

On Kant’s Idea of Humanity as an End in Itself, European Journal of Philosophy


Anti-Meaning and Why It Matters (co-author: Stephen M. Campbell), Journal of the American Philosophical Association

Revisiting Kant’s Universal Law and Humanity Formulas, Berlin: De Gruyter

Reason with me: “Confabulation” and Interpersonal Moral Reasoning, Ethical Perspectives 22 (2): 315-332

The Medicalization of Love and Narrow and Broad Conceptions of Human Well-being, Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 24 (3):337-346

Love Troubles: Human Attachment and Biomedical Enhancements, Journal of Applied Philosophy 31 (2):190-202

Kant’s Universal Law Formula Revisited, Metaphilosophy 46 (2):280-299

Motivation-Enhancements and Domain-Specific Values, American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 6 (1):37-39


The Good in Happiness (co-authors: Jonathan Phillips and Shen-Yi Liao), in Tania Lombrozo, Shaun Nichols & Joshua Knobe (eds.), Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy, Volume 1, Oxford: Oxford University Press: 253–293

Just Freedom? Review of Philip Pettit’s Just Freedom, Res Publica 20 (4):441-445

Review of Lorraine Besser-Jones’s Eudaimonic Ethics: The Philosophy and Psychology of Living Well, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

Review of Ingmar Persson’s From Morality to the End of Reason, Utilitas 26 (3):321-325

Blog-Contributions and other short writings:

“Could there be mutual love between humans and robots?”, available on the “Bij Nader Inzien” blog, here: https://bijnaderinzien.org/2018/06/07/can-there-be-mutual-love-between-humans-and-robots/

The Ethics of Self-driving Cars and Accident Scenarios (in “De Filosoof”): http://fufxl.nl/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/De-Filosoof-75.pdf

“Can We Learn Anything about Self-Driving Cars by Considering the ‘Trolley Problem’?”, on the “Bij Nader Inzien” blog, available here: https://bijnaderinzien.org/2017/01/26/can-we-learn-anything-about-self-driving-cars-by-considering-the-trolley-problem/


Interview on The Dissenter with Ricardo Lopes: “Ep #222 Sven Nyholm: Self-Driving Cars, Love Enhancement, And Sex Robots”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEcqxjlz1eg

Interview on the Philosophical Disquisitions podcast: “Nyholm on Accident Algorithms and the Ethics of Self-Driving Cars”: https://philosophicaldisquisitions.blogspot.com/2018/06/episode-40-nyholm-on-accident.html

Interview on the Philosophy 247 podcast on “robot love”: http://www.philosophy247.org/podcasts/robot-love/

Interview on the Philosophical Disquisitions podcast on “Love Enhancement, Deep Brain Stimulation and the Ethics of Self Driving Cars”: http://philosophicaldisquisitions.blogspot.nl/2016/05/episode-3-sven-nyholm-on-love.html

Recent and Upcoming PhD-Courses:

Philosophy of Risk, October 28-November 1, 2019

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice (co-organized with Sem de Maagt), April 2020


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