Ph.D. researcher: Intergenerational Democracy and Negative Emissions Technology: Procedural Justice and Legitimacy for Future People in Climate Policy

The University of Twente Department of Philosophy and the Gravitation Programme concerning the Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies (ESDT) invites applications for a Ph.D. position (Full time, 4 years) concerning intergenerational justice and negative emissions technologies (NETS) as part of the “Free and Fair Society” line.

Deadline of application:  May 26th, 2021.

For more information, see the full project description on the ESDT website:

The Challenge

Responding justly and feasibly to climate change will very likely require a large-scale effort to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Some of these technologies remain relatively uncontroversial, but many generate difficult tradeoffs or significant ethical concerns. And while many of these concerns have been the subject of rigorous study, questions of intergenerational justice in the context of NETs are relatively under-theorized.

The objective of this project is not merely to unearth and then elucidate these intergenerational issues—whether they be predicated upon storage, mitigation obstruction, or risk—but also to translate these concerns into a language that can be more effectively incorporated into policy-making models and deliberation. The goal of this project is to develop a unique, action-guiding account of intergenerational justice that can be applied to the specific intergenerational issues and assumptions of negative emissions technologies. Working in tandem with this account—and using it as a template—the project also aims to create a generalized methodology for translating ethical and political values into concepts that can be more readily used in public policy.

In keeping with the project goals of ESDT, this project will also explore the extent to which the specific issues raised by intergenerational justice in climate policy will lead us to revise or create new theoretical understandings of core normative concepts and commitments. To what extent does adopting an intergenerational perspective require a revision of important distinctions or theories in political philosophy? Similarly, we will also explore the extent to which our ethical and political concepts may need to be revised to make them more readily translatable into public policy. Given the commitments of the researchers involved in the project, we are especially interested in a scholar who is interested in engaging with neo-republican political theory in the context of intergenerational justice, but this is not a requirement.

This project is funded by ESDT and will be located within the Department of Philosophy at the University of Twente. It will be jointly supervised by promotors Prof. dr. Detlef van Vuuren at the Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development at Utrecht University and Prof. dr. Philip Brey at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Twente, with dr. Patrick Taylor Smith as daily supervisor.


We are looking for a Ph.D. candidate who satisfies the following requirements:

  • Completed masters in philosophy, with an interest in political philosophy, normative ethics, or environmental ethics (undergraduate work in fields related to environmental policy-making desirable but not required) OR an undergraduate degree in philosophy with an attendant masters in a field related to environmental policy-making such as economics, STS, etc
  • Excellent speaking and writing skills in English
  • An enthusiasm for combining rigorous theoretical work with practical applications in the climate arena
  • An aptitude for independent work

The following qualifications would be helpful but are not in any way required:

  • Background in any of the following academic domains: intergenerational justice, economics, neo-republican political theory, or negative emissions technologies
  • Experience with environmental policy-making, either within academia, government, or civil society

About the Gravitation Project on the Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies

This Ph.D. 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 Organisation for Scientific Research 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 in 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”.

We Offer

The UT provides a dynamic and international environment, combining the benefits of academic research with a topic of high relevance to public and health administration, excellent working conditions, a stimulating scientific environment, and a green and friendly campus. We offer:

  • A personal development program within the Twente Graduate School, combined with excellent mentorship
  • A gross monthly salary of € 2,395 in the first year, growing each year up to € 3,061 in the fourth year
  • 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;
  • International applicants are likely to qualify for a low 30% tax regime for the first five years of their appointment.

Full status as an employee at the UT, including pension and health care benefits.

About the Department, University, and Region

The department ( is internationally leading in the philosophy and ethics of technology. It currently includes twelve tenured and tenure-track staff members, four postdocs, twenty Ph.D. students, and five temporary and part-time faculty members. The department also participates in the interuniversity 4TU.Centre for Ethics and Technology ( Both the department and the Centre have a strong international orientation and include members from many different nationalities.

The University of Twente (UT) is a research university with a strong international orientation and a focus on science & engineering and social and behavioral sciences.   It includes more than 3,300 faculty and staff and 10,000 students.  Its motto “high tech, human touch” expresses the aim of combining research in engineering with social and behavioral sciences.  The UT is a campus university, located in the city of Enschede, in the east of the Netherlands.  Enschede is a lively city of 160,000, located in beautiful countryside and near spectacular nature areas.  It is only two hours away from major European cities like Amsterdam, Cologne, and Düsseldorf, three hours from Brussels and less than six hours by land (or one hour by air) from Berlin, Paris, and London.

How to Apply

Apply using the Apply Now button at the following link:!/2021-341/phd-researcher-intergenerational-democracy-and-negative-emissions-technology-mv

Your application should include a CV, a letter of application (including a summary of relevant experience, motivation for pursuing the research, and contact information for two academic references), and a writing sample of 5-8,000 words no later than May 26th, 2021. Since only three documents can be uploaded per application, please combine documents if needed. Interviews will take place in early June. The expected start date is September 1st, 2021, though earlier dates will also be considered. There are multiple ESDT Ph.D. positions currently available, we welcome you to apply to all that appear relevant or attractive.

For more information, please contact Patrick Taylor Smith ()


We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our university and highly encourage people from underrepresented groups in philosophy to apply. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, veteran status, or disability status. We will ensure that individuals with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodation to participate in the job application or interview process, to perform essential job functions, and to receive other benefits and privileges of employment. Please contact us to request accommodation.

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