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PhD Position in Philosophy of AI & Cognitive Science (EXPIRED)

Department of Philosophy and Ethics, Eindhoven University of Technology

Job category Graduate fellowship / Fixed term
AOS Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence, Philosophy of Cognitive Science
AOS categories Philosophy of Mind
Philosophy of Cognitive Science
Philosophy of Computing
Philosophy of Science
AOC Open
Workload Full time
Vacancies 1
Organization's reference number V39.4835
Location Eindhoven, North Brabant, Netherlands
Start date Between May and September 2021
Job description

The Philosophy and Ethics department at Eindhoven University of Technology, Faculty of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences, is offering three fully-funded 4-year PhD positions on the themes of explainable AI, cognitive science, and philosophy of science/social epistemology. Applicants will be considered for all three positions.

PhD Position A: Norms of Explainable AI
PhD Position B: Cognitive Science of AI
PhD Position C: Philosophy of Science/Social epistemology 

Position B: Cognitive Science of AI

“Black box” AI systems, such as deep neural networks, increasingly assist humans in making decisions, be they medical diagnoses, decisions regarding transportation routes (e.g., changing car routes based on latest traffic information), and other data analytics. It is important that these decisions are transparent, and the GDPR has made strides in requiring such transparency. However, explanations can have various functions and purposes. Explanations can promote trust, enable understanding, or persuade others to do something. In addition, explanations can empower engineers to develop safe, reliable, and user-friendly AI. In order to ensure that the explanations of AI decisions serve socially responsible functions, ethical and epistemic reflection is necessary. Moreover, in order to facilitate the development of explainable AI, normative guidelines must be articulated, and best-practices methods must be identified. 

The aim of this PhD project is to investigate the utility of cognitive science methods in explaining the behavior of “black box” AI systems. Methods to be considered may include  experimental protocols from comparative cognition research, mathematical modeling methods from cognitive psychology, and data analysis techniques from neuroscience. The work to be conducted in this project lies at the intersection of philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, philosophy of technology, and philosophy of AI. Links to issues in ethics and applied philosophy are also possible and welcome.

The PhD candidate will work in close collaboration with Dr. Carlos Zednik, other members
of the P&E department, and the Eindhoven Artificial Intelligence Systems Institute (EAISI). 
For any queries, please contact Carlos Zednik, c.a.zednik[at]tue.nl. 

Job requirements

You hold a Master’s degree or equivalent degree in Philosophy. Other Master’s degrees will also be considered if you have a demonstrable affinity with analytical/conceptual problems, as well as with normative questions.

You have a demonstrable interest in the themes of the research: philosophy of science, philosophy of AI, explanation, machine learning, cognitive science. You have an excellent command of English. For this position, familiarity with computational and/or mathematical modeling methods is essential. 

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 Department as well as in the field of philosophy, we especially encourage candidates from underrepresented groups to apply.

Conditions of employment
  • A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university with the possibility to present your work at international conferences.
  • A four-year, fully-funded PhD position, starting between May and September 2021.
  • To support you during your PhD and to prepare you for the rest of your career, you will have free access to a personal development program for PhD students (PROOF program).
  • A gross monthly salary and benefits in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for Dutch Universities.
  • Additionally, an annual holiday allowance of 8% of the yearly salary, plus a year-end allowance of 8.3% of the annual salary.
  • A broad package of fringe benefits, including an excellent technical infrastructure, moving expenses, and savings schemes.
  • Family-friendly initiatives are in place, such as an international spouse program, and excellent on-campus children day care and sports facilities.
Information and application

Research Environment 

The Philosophy & Ethics department at TU/e is a vibrant international community, consisting of around 30 members (including 9 PhD students) with research interests ranging from philosophy of science and technology to ethics and the philosophy of AI. We have strong cooperation with other departments and the new Eindhoven Artificial intelligence Systems Institute (EAISI).
The PhDs will also be affiliated with the new center for AI and Philosophy at TU/e.  

TU/e is part of the 4TU Ethics consortium, where we cooperate closely on research and education of students (TU/e, Delft, Twente, Wageningen). We are part of the Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies (ESDT) research program of seven academic institutions in the Netherlands, funded for 10 years with a combined budget of 27M€.  

The Philosophy & Ethics department is growing: We have recently added 4 Assistant Professors to our group and will advertise a PostDoc position in addition to these three PhD positions.


Each applicant will be automatically considered for all three PhD positions. However, please state whether you have a preference (or wish to be excluded from consideration) for a specific position in your motivation letter.

Your application should contain the following documents: 

  • a letter of motivation explaining your interest in the position and your qualifications for it
  • your curriculum vitae 
  • a writing sample (Master thesis, seminar paper or equivalent) 
  • names and contact information of two persons willing to provide references 
  • optionally, you can submit a research statement (max 1-2 pages), elaborating on your ideas for a research focus in line with the above theme

If you are interested, we invite you to apply before 10 March 2021, 23:59. Interviews will be held shortly thereafter. To apply please use the “apply now” button. 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. 

More information

For further information on the PhD project, please contact Carlos Zednik, c.a.zednik[at]tue.nl.
For information about the terms of employment, click here or contact Kim van Puijenbroek,
HR advisor, pz.ieis[at]tue.nl.

For more information on the Philosophy & Ethics Department see https://www.tue.nl/en/research/research-groups/innovation-sciences/philosophy-ethics/ 

For more information on the Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Innovation Sciences see

Further information about Eindhoven University of Technology can be found at www.tue.nl.

How to apply
Application type Online
Web address to apply https://jobs.tue.nl/en/vacancy/three-phd-positions...
Email to apply
Hard deadline March 10, 2021, 6:59pm CET
Web address for more information https://jobs.tue.nl/en/vacancy/three-phd-positions...
Contact name Carlos Zednik
Contact email
Time created February 10, 2021, 1:15pm UTC
Scheduled expiry date March 10, 2021, 6:59pm CET
Expired on March 11, 2021, 7:46pm CET
Last updated May 11, 2021, 3:00pm UTC
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TU/e is not an American institution.