Ph.D. project on Emerging Technologies & the Moral Character of the Human Being

The PhD candidate is expected to write a dissertation at the intersection of philosophical anthropology, philosophy of human-technology relations, and ethics. Emerging technologies result in new types of human-technology relations. Rather than being ‘used’, they bring configurations as ‘immersion’ (Internet-of-Things), ‘fusion’ (implants), ‘augmentation’ (augmented reality), ‘telepresence’ (robotics and digital media), and ‘co-operation’ (artificial intelligence). These new human-technology relations affect the moral character of the human being in several ways. Artificial agents help to shape moral decision-making: expert systems advise doctors about the resuscitation of coma patients, and autonomous vehicles make decisions about life and death. Behavior-influencing technologies like e-coaching apps and interactive cyber-physical environments affect the moral development of human beings. Augmented reality technologies affect moral engagement, moral interpretations, and compassion, and may shift our moral intuitions. Biomedical technologies and implants blur the boundaries between the human and the artificial, which affects the status of the ‘human being’ and the ‘humane’ as moral concepts.

This PhD project investigates how emerging technologies affect the moral character of the human being, by connecting philosophical analysis of human-technology relations to ethics, in close relation to one or more concrete technologies or technological developments. Applicants are invited to submit a research idea that positions itself in this domain, connecting for instance to themes like: the status of the ‘humane’ as a normative concept; the technological mediation of moral development; normalizations of ‘the human’ in technological developments; technologically mediated moral engagement and empathy; the relations between artificial agency and moral agency. Proposals should include explicit references to (a) theories of human-technology relations; (b) ethical approaches (e.g. virtue ethics, feminist ethics, Confucian ethics, etc.); (c) concrete examples of emerging and ‘ethically disruptive’ technologies.

The prospective PhD candidate is expected to perform high quality and internationally visible research with publications in peer-reviewed journals. The candidate will be supervised by Dr. Julia Hermann (Philosophy Department, University of Twente), Prof. dr. ir. Peter-Paul Verbeek (Philosophy Department, University of Twente) and Prof. dr. Wijnand IJsselsteijn (Human Technology Interaction Group, Eindhoven University of Technology). The candidate will be appointed for a period of four years.

The research programme

This PhD position will be part of the Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies programme (, a new ten-year long international research programme of seven academic institutions in the Netherlands that has started in January 2020. This programme has a combined budget of € 27 million and is funded by the Netherlands


  • You have, or are about to receive, a master’s degree in Philosophy, Science and Technology Studies (STS) or a related discipline.
  • You have demonstrated expertise in and affinity with philosophy (in case you do not have a degree in philosophy) and technologies (in case you do not have a degree in STS or a related field).
  • You are proficient in English.
  • You are able to do independent research and have excellent writing and publication skills.

We expect that you will move to the Netherlands, to the region where the university is located or to a region from which a daily commute is feasible.


We offer a four-year full-time PhD position, starting September 1, 2021.

  • We provide excellent mentorship and a stimulating research environment.
  • You are offered a professional and personal development program within the Twente Graduate School.
  • You receive a starting salary of € 2.395 gross per month in the first year and a salary of € 3.061 in the fourth year gross per month.
  • You receive excellent benefits including a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%, a minimum of 29 holidays per year in case of full-time employment and a solid pension scheme.
  • We provide a training program in which you and your supervisors will make up a plan for additional suitable education and supervision.
  • We encourage a high degree of responsibility and independence while collaborating with close colleagues, researchers and other university staff, as well as with other partners within the Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies consortium.
  • We encourage Ph.D. students to spend a semester abroad. A budget is available to cover expenses.
  • We offer generous (conference) travel budgets.


As a PhD candidate, you will be enrolled in the Twente Graduate School (TGS). Your work location is Enschede.

Additional information about this position can be obtained from Dr. Julia Hermann, (BMS), University of Twente.

Please do not submit your application to this email address.

You must submit your application before 1st June 2021 via the ‘Apply now’ button at the bottom of this page and include:

  • A motivation letter
  • A Curriculum Vitae
  • A research proposal (approx. 2 pages)

Master students who will graduate in the next coming months are also welcome to apply.

If you would like to receive the research proposal of the Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies programme, in which you find a description of the programme in general and of the aims of the research line ‘The Human Condition’ in particular, please send an email to Seeta Autar ().


The Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences (BMS) aims to play a pivotal role in understanding, co-engineering and evaluating innovation in society. Innovation is driven by advances in technology. By means of ‘social engineering’, we are here to integrate these advances in society. As a people-first tech university, we align these advances with the needs and behaviour of humans. We ensure proper public and private management as well as robust, inclusive and fair organisational structures. The faculty of BMS does this by developing, transferring and applying high-quality knowledge of Psychology, Business Administration, Public Administration, Communication Science, Philosophy, Educational Science, and Health Sciences. Our research and education in these disciplines are challenge-based. The BMS research programmes are directly linked to our research institutes: Mesa+ Institute for Nanotechnology, the TechMed Centre and the Digital Society Institute.
As an employer, the BMS Faculty offers jobs that matter. We equip you as a staff member to shape new opportunities both for yourself and for our society. With our Faculty, you will be part of a leading tech university that is changing our world for the better. We offer an open, inclusive and entrepreneurial climate, in which we encourage you to make healthy choices, for example, with our flexible, customizable conditions.

University of Twente (UT)

University of Twente (UT) has entered the new decade with an ambitious, new vision, mission and strategy. As ‘the ultimate people-first university of technology’ we are rapidly expanding on our High Tech Human Touch philosophy and the unique role it affords us in society. Everything we do is aimed at the maximum impact on people, society and connections through the sustainable utilisation of science and technology. We want to contribute to the development of a fair, digital and sustainable society through our open, inclusive and entrepreneurial attitude. This attitude permeates everything we do and is present in every one of UT’s departments and faculties. Building on our rich legacy in merging technical and social sciences, we focus on five distinguishing research domains: Improving healthcare by personalised technologies; Creating intelligent manufacturing systems; Shaping our world with smart materials; Engineering our digital society; and Engineering for a resilient world.

As an employer, the University of Twente offers jobs that matter. We equip you as a staff member to shape new opportunities both for yourself and for our society. With us, you will be part of a leading tech university that is changing our world for the better. We offer an open, inclusive and entrepreneurial climate, in which we encourage you to make healthy choices, for example, with our flexible, customisable conditions.


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