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CFA – 4-year PhD Researcher in the Philosophy of Moral Responsibility and Philosophical Methodology (KU Leuven)

1 September 2022, 12:00 AM15 September 2022, 11:59 PM CEST


We are looking for a PhD candidate with an interest in the philosophy of moral responsibility, philosophical methodology and the history of analytic philosophy. The position is full-time, for four years, starting November 1st 2022 (or as soon as possible thereafter), with limited teaching duties and organizational tasks. The candidate will work with prof. Benjamin De Mesel (supervisor, https://hiw.kuleuven.be/ripple/people/00085917) and prof. Stefaan Cuypers (co-supervisor, https://hiw.kuleuven.be/clps/people/00018093) on their project ‘Transforming Responsibility Theory Through Strawsonian Genealogy’, funded by KU Leuven Internal Funds. The candidate will be a member of RIPPLE (Research in Political Philosophy and Ethics Leuven) and is expected to participate in its activities.

Project Summary

The project ‘Transforming Responsibility Theory Through Strawsonian Genealogy’ (2022-2026) has two main objectives. First, we aim to present and develop a philosophical method, called ‘Strawsonian genealogy’, for the study of internally diverse concepts (concepts which resist traditional conceptual analysis in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions). We will build upon the work of P.F. Strawson, compare our new method to related methods in the work of the later Ludwig Wittgenstein and Bernard Williams, and situate it within the contemporary methodological landscape. Second, we aim to show how our genealogical method helps to provide (1) new insights into the most influential paper in responsibility theory (P.F. Strawson’s ‘Freedom and Resentment’) and (2) new answers to key questions in the field, including ‘Why do we have the concept of moral responsibility?’, ‘How is moral responsibility connected to punishment?’, and ‘What is the point of punishment?’.

Role of the Candidate

The project will be carried out by the supervisor, the co-supervisor and two PhD students. One PhD student, who will work on punishment and its connection to moral responsibility, has already been hired. We are looking for a second PhD student, who will focus on (1) methodological questions (is there a place for genealogical methods in analytic philosophy, how do these methods relate to existing methods?) and/or (2) questions regarding moral responsibility (why do we have the concept of moral responsibility, how is it rooted in human needs and concerns, what is its point and what are its limits?).
Profile and Requirements

The candidate must:

· Have a master’s level degree in philosophy.
· Show potential as an academic researcher.
· Have a broad philosophical background.
· Be willing to contribute to debates in analytic philosophy.
· Be motivated to work in an international academic environment.
· Have an excellent command of the English language.
· Be willing to carry out minor educational and organizational tasks.


You can apply for this job no later than September 15, 2022 via the online application tool (https://webwsp.aps.kuleuven.be/esap/public/ui5_ui5/sap/zh_erc_esol_go/index.html?sap-ui-language=EN&vacaturenummer=60139991&toepassing=LGH). The application should contain:

(1) A motivation letter (maximum 400 words) in which you explain why you are a good fit for the project. This might be the case because of previous work, and/or because of excellent study results, a particular interest in a specific part of the project, etc. It is not necessary to demonstrate specific knowledge of debates in philosophical methodology or moral responsibility; rather, we hope to gather from your letter that you have the capacities required to carry out the project. Please include answers to the following questions: on which research questions (see Project Summary and Role of the Candidate) would you like to focus and why, which additional questions or authors do you deem relevant for this project? In case you want to adjust the project to your own interests, please explain how your personal input will advance the main objectives of the project (as outlined in the Project Summary above).
(2) A Curriculum Vitae, including a detailed overview of previous study results.
(3) A writing sample in English of maximum 10 pages. This could be a paper you wrote for a course, a chapter of your MA thesis, etc. In case the writing sample is part of a larger whole, please make sure that the sample can be read independently. Although it should be an exercise demonstrating your research capacities in philosophy, it should not necessarily be about any of the central topics of the project. Please submit what you believe to be your best philosophical work, regardless of the philosophical subfield it belongs to.
(4) Two names and contact details (e-mail) of people who are willing to recommend you for the position. Please do not include recommendation letters.

The application deadline is September 15th 2022, 23:59 (CET). Interviews with selected candidates will be held on September 27th 2022.


For more information, see the vacancy at the KU Leuven Jobsite: https://www.kuleuven.be/personeel/jobsite/jobs/60139991

For any questions concerning the application, the project or the position, do not hesitate to contact prof. Benjamin De Mesel (benjamin.demesel@kuleuven.be). Please note that we will not provide more details about the content of the project than provided in the Project Summary above in order to guarantee a level playing field for all candidates. Only the selected candidate will get access to the full project description


1 September 2022, 12:00 AM CEST
15 September 2022, 11:59 PM CEST
Event Category:


KU Leuven

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