The international review committee has scrutinized the philosophical research of nine Dutch Universities. The criteria used were quality, relevance, productivity and viability prospects. On a five point scale, the departments of philosophy and technology of Eindhoven and Delft gained the maximum score on all four criteria, namely “excellent”. Twente was judged to be “excellent” as well on three of the four criteria, namely relevance, productivity and viability prospects. The quality of the philosophy research in Twente was found to be “very good”.
The review committee consisted of internationally acknowledged philosophers, namely Gordon Graham (University of Aberdeen), Jonathan Dancy (University of Reading / University of Texas), Bas van Fraassen (Princeton University) and John Rogers (University of Keele).
In her general comments the review committee explicitly mentioned the “innovative work” done in the philosophy of technology, “a relatively new branch of the subject in which Dutch philosophers can claim to be pre-eminent.” According to Jeroen van den Hoven, professor in ethics and technology at Delft University and scientific director of the 4TU.Centre for Ethics and Technology, it is unique that in the Netherlands more than 30 researchers are working on issues surrounding ethics and technology. At foreign universities it often concerns individual researchers, despite the fact that technological developments have an enormous impact on society and raise a lot of ethical questions “The Netherlands is leading in ethics and technology”, he interprets the statement of the review committee with pride.
As a result of the preliminary visitation report the 4TU.Federation had already decided to add an extra ‘Centre of Excellence’ in the area of philosophy and ethics to the existing five centra. The three participating universities have each made half a million euros available for starting up the new 4TU.Centre for Ethics and Technology. Besides doing research, the centre also wants to provide strategic input for the public debate and decision making surrounding science and technology. On January 24, 2007 the 4TU.Centre for Ethics and Technology will be officially opened.