PhD Positions in the Ethics of Cooperation

VU University of Amsterdam Department of Philosophy



FTE: 0.8 - 1

Job description

The Department of Philosophy at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has two vacancies for PhD researchers on the Ethics of Cooperation.

Project 1: Cooperation and diachronic rationality
Why cooperate (e.g. reduce one’s energy consumption, adhere to the corona measures, or get a vaccine) even when one’s individual contribution makes no difference and seems like a mere waste of one’s efforts? Recent suggestions to solve this “inefficacy problem” have instrumental and expressive components and involve consequentialist and Kantian justifications. This project will work on a new response in terms of commitment and rationality over time.

Project 2: Cooperation and taking responsibility
When many people have to cooperate in light of important ends (e.g. fighting a pandemic or climate change), it often happens that some agents take too much responsibility, and others too little. Much work has been done on how to fairly attribute moral responsibility for the consequences of our past actions, but less attention has been given to what taking responsibility comes to and when it can be fitting or (un)fair. This project will develop an account both of the nature of taking responsibility and of the relevant fittingness and fairness norms governing what people should take responsibility for.

The projects will be carried out in close collaboration, and will be supervised by dr. Jan Willem Wieland and dr. Phil Robichaud. The projects are embedded in the research group Moral and Political Philosophy of Martin van Hees. Project descriptions are available upon request by writing to or

Your duties

  • conduct research on the project’s topic, resulting in a PhD dissertation and journal publications
  • participate in the weekly research activities of the research group Moral and Political Philosophy (and related national and international events
  • participate in the teaching activities of the research group Moral and Political Philosophy (max. 10% of your time), and attain a University Teaching Qualification
  • participate in the VU PhD training program


  • the candidate has a Master’s or Research Master’s degree in Philosophy (or can be expected to obtain it in this academic year). We will also consider outstanding candidates with Master's degrees in related fields
  • the candidate has a promising academic profile and affinity with contemporary analytic ethics (as shown in grade transcripts, final thesis, and curriculum vitae)
  • excellent spoken and written English as well as strong academic writing skills are essential

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts € 2,395 gross per month during the first year and increases to 3,061 gross per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a total duration of 4 years (or 5 years in case of a 0.8 fte contract).

Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

Faculty of Humanities
The Faculty of Humanities links a number of fields of study: Language, Literature and Communication, Art & Culture, History, Antiquities and Philosophy. Our teaching and research focus on current societal and scientific themes: from artificial intelligence to visual culture, from urbanization to the history of slavery, from ‘fake news’ in journalism to communication in organizations. We strive to ensure small group sizes. Innovative education and interdisciplinary research are our hallmarks.

Working at the Faculty of Humanities means making a real contribution to the quality of leading education and research in an inspiring and personal work and study climate. We employ more than 250 staff members, and we are home to around 1,300 students.

About the department

The Department of Philosophy, which is one of three departments of the Faculty of Humanities, is a vibrant and international community of philosophers committed to high-quality teaching and research.


Are you interested in these positions? Please apply via the application button and upload:

  • your curriculum vitae (with grade transcripts)
  • cover letter, which describes your motivation and qualifications
  • research plan (of 500-800 words) on how you intend to carry out the PhD project in question (make sure to specify if you are applying for project 1 or 2, or both)
  • English writing sample of ~5.000 words
  • two references (names and emails)

Intended starting date: September 1, 2021
Deadline application: April 25, 2021

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Dr. J.J.W (Jan Willem) Wieland (project 1)
Position: Assistant Professor


Name: Dr. P. (Phil) Robichaud (project 2)
Position: Assisant Professor

No agencies

In your application, please refer to


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