Post-Doc: Behaviour change technologies for moral improvement

The TU/e is looking for candidates for a Philosophy & Ethics Post-Doc in the project: Behaviour change technologies for moral improvement: Moral skilfulness and moral struggle. This Post-Doc position will be part of the Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies research programme, a new 10 year long international programme of seven academic institutions in the Netherlands that started in January 2020. 

Intended starting date: 1st September 2020 (or soon after)

Job description

This project aims to explore the morally disruptive potential of behaviour change technologies for moral behaviour that is, technologies that can be used to improve moral cognition or moral decision making. They include bio or neuro-enhancement, robotic nudges, nudge-designed environments, and ambient persuasive technologies, which may help people behave more consistently with their deeply held moral convictions or aid people in overcoming cognitive and affective limitations that prevent them from appreciating a situation’s moral dimensions, or they may simply make it easier for them to make the morally right choice by helping them to overcome sources of weakness of will. This project will focus, first, on the possibility that use of such technology will lead to moral deskilling or atrophy of moral “muscle”. It will investigate whether or not, and in what ways, such deskilling is problematic from a moral point of view.

Answering these questions can allow us to rethink fundamental ethical debates on for example, the value of moral action itself; the relative importance of consequences and intentions; and the nature of character. Secondly, it will investigate how moral technologies mediate or lessen our experience of moral distress, conflict, and struggle. If moral struggle is offloaded to a system of technological nudges, persuasions, and e-choice architecture, does this undermine or shift the meaningfulness of engaging with and potentially overcoming moral challenges? How might this change impact individual levels of well-being and self-assessments of control, character, and authenticity?

Research Programme “Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies”

This Post-Doc position will be part of the Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies research program, a new 10 year long international programme of seven academic institutions in the Netherlands that started in January 2020. This programme has a combined budget of € 27 million, and is funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) in the Gravitation funding scheme for excellent research, and by matching funds from the participating institutions. The duration is from January 2020 to December 2029.

The programme has the aim of achieving breakthrough research at the intersection of ethics, philosophy, technology / engineering and social sciences, and to position its consortium at the top of its field internationally. A key objective is to investigate how new technologies challenge moral values and ontological concepts (like “nature”, “human being” and “community”), and how these challenges necessitate a revision of these concepts.  The programme includes four research lines, “Nature, life and human intervention”, “The future of a free and fair society”, “The human condition” and “Synthesis: Ethics of Technology, Practical Philosophy, and Modern Technology-Driven Societies”. The Postdoc project we advertise will be part of the research line “The human condition”.

Please note that there are other vacancies in the Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies programme at different participating universities. In case several are of interest to you, we want to encourage you to apply to them as well.

Job requirements

You hold a Ph.D. degree or equivalent in philosophy or ethics. Other fields (e.g. human-technology interaction, psychology) will also be considered if you have a demonstrable interest in analytical/conceptual problems, as well as in normative questions.

You have an interest in the themes of the research: ethics of behaviour change, ethics of technology, moral enhancement, moral agency, moral philosophy, nudging, as well as empirical research in these areas, such as the psychology of behaviour change.

The TU/e is an equal opportunity employer. We welcome candidates with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. As we aim to increase the diversity in our Section Philosophy & Ethics and in the field of philosophy, we especially encourage candidates from underrepresented groups to apply.

Conditions of employment

We offer you a 3 year Post-Doc, starting September 1st (or soon thereafter) 2020. The gross salary is between €3255 and  €4274 per month. Additionally, Eindhoven University of Technology provides excellent facilities for professional and personal development, a holiday allowance (amounting to 8% of the annual salary), an end-of-year bonus (amounting to 8.3%), and a number of additional benefits.

Information and application

Application

Your application should contain the following documents:

  • a letter of application which explains your interest in the position and your qualifications for it;
  • a curriculum vitae;
  • a writing sample
  • a one-page motivation statement, elaborating on your ideas for a research focus in line with the project
  • names and contact information of two persons willing to provide references.

If you are interested, we invite you to apply before June 21st. Make sure to apply no later than 20th Jun 2020 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam).

Interviews will be held shortly thereafter. To apply please use the “apply now” button on this website page . Please note that a maximum of 1 document can be uploaded, so if you have more than 1 document you will have to combine them. Please do not send us applications by e-mail.

Further information
For further information on the Ph.D. project, please contact Dr. Lily Frank  L.E.Frank[at]tue.nl

More information about the Programme “Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies” can be found at https://www.esdt.nl/.

More information about the Philosophy and Ethics Department at TU/e can be found at https://www.tue.nl/en/research/research-groups/philosophy-ethics/.

More information about the Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Innovation Sciences can be found at www.tue.nl/en/university/departments/industrial-engineering-innovation-sciences/research/.

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