Doctoral position in practical philosophy, with a focus on biodiversity and the economy
Ref PAR 2022/1553
The University of Gothenburg tackles society’s challenges with diverse knowledge. 56 000 students and 6 600 employees make the university a large and inspiring place to work and study. Strong research and attractive study programmes attract scientists and students from around the world. With new knowledge and new perspectives, the University contributes to a better future.
The Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science (FLoV) at the Faculty of Arts has about 100 staff members and a student body corresponding to about 350 full-time equivalents. It is home to a large number of national and international research projects and offers courses and degree programs for philosophers, logicians, linguists, language technologists, theorists of science, historians of philosophy, philologists and philosophy teachers. The Department also arranges doctoral education and development work in its various academic domains.
Practical philosophy is a prominent research environment at the university and has a special focus on applied ethics (including financial ethics and bioethics) and moral responsibility.
We are currently looking to hire a doctoral candidate in the intersection of environmental and economic ethics. The candidate will join the Financial Ethics Research Group which consists of philosophers and economists dedicated to ethical and political issues raised by the financial system (in the broadest sense). More specifically, the candidate will be connected to the research program Mistra Finance to Revive Biodiversity, which is a program funded by Mistra- the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research. Additional funding is due to Vinnova, Sweden’s innovation agency.
General information about being a doctoral student at the University of Gothenburg can be found on the university's doctoral student pages.
Subject area description
The term “biodiversity” denotes the variety and variability of life on Earth, including the variety of species and ecosystems. Unfortunately, mankind’s failure to recognize the importance of and to successfully manage biodiversity has led to what is now considered a sixth mass extinction of species. The continued loss of biodiversity is eroding the foundation of all societies and economies, including our Western system of financial capitalism. Yet it has been difficult to express this loss in economic or financial terms, which may be one of the reasons why previous efforts to halt biodiversity loss have failed.
Voices are now being raised for making economic agents, such as multinational companies and financial investors, become more engaged in these efforts. After all, in financial capitalism, companies and investors command substantial stewardship over the allocation of resources which could be put to use to revive biodiversity. But in order to do so, these economic agents must be provided with both suitable knowledge and powerful incentives to consider the effects of their activities on species and ecosystems. So precisely how can this be achieved? And, more generally, is it really possible to connect environmental and economic values in a sufficiently robust manner?
This doctoral position allows the candidate to explore the topic of environmental versus economic aspects of biodiversity in greater detail. We welcome proposals that are grounded in environmental ethics or economic ethics (or both). Furthermore, the candidate is expected to propose and explore his or her own ‘twist’ or perspective on the topic, on the basis of stringent philosophical analysis and argumentation. Some examples of interesting research questions in this regard are:
- What is the value of biodiversity? Does it have intrinsic or only instrumental value? Can this value be captured by some more specific ethical or economic theory?
- Can and should we put a price on biodiversity? That is, can and should we use markets and economic thinking in order to protect species and ecosystems? Or would this count as “commodifying” nature in an unethical way?
- What duties, if any, do economic agents like companies and investors have to protect biodiversity? How do such duties square with their traditional economic role?
- What policies can the state legitimately pursue to safeguard biodiversity? Do these include substantial regulations of markets and financial flows? Should we understand biodiversity loss as a market externality?
- To what degree should we permit investors to prioritize biodiversity over other important environmental goals, such as climate change adaption and mitigation? How much should policymakers guide investors in weighing biodiversity preservation versus other similarly important objectives?
- To what extent can existing economic theories capture or explain the value of biodiversity? Is the mass extinction of species a failing of the economic sciences?
We also welcome further perspectives and questions related to the overall topic as developed by the candidate.
The doctoral candidate’s main responsibilities will be to write a doctoral dissertation in the area mentioned above, and to complete obligatory course work. He or she may also undertake a limited amount of teaching, administration or research not directly connected to her or his dissertation topic. Such duties extend the position accordingly.
The candidate is expected to carry out the vast majority of his or her work in Gothenburg and to participate on a regular basis in the department’s activities, especially the seminars in practical philosophy. He or she is also expected to take an active part in the activities of the relevant research group, including meetings, seminars and conferences. The working language within the group is English. There will be funds available for travel and shorter visits to other universities.
To be eligible for the position, the applicant must meet both general and specific entry requirements.
General entry requirements
A person meets the general entry requirements under Chapter 7, Section 39 of the Higher Education Ordinance if he or she:
- has been awarded a second-cycle qualification, or
- has satisfied the requirements for courses comprising at least 240 higher education credits of which at least 60 higher education credits were awarded in the second-cycle, or
- has acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad.
Specific entry requirements
Admission to the third-cycle program in Practical Philosophy requires:
- 30 higher education credits in Practical Philosophy as a second-cycle subject, at least 15 of which must be from a degree project or equivalent knowledge,
2. the type(s) of English skills needed to be able to benefit from compulsory parts of the course and to be able to actively participate in seminars and similar activities. For further information about the general and specific requirements please refer to study syllabus at the following link: https://www.gu.se/en/flov/doctoral-studies
Applicants will be assessed based on their estimated ability to benefit from the study program. We will base this assessment primarily on (1) the candidate’s research proficiency as it is demonstrated in submitted theses and other documents, and (2) how well the project draft fits with the research conducted in the relevant research group.
Admission may also include an interview in addition to a review of qualifications submitted. Admission decisions are made by the Head of Department following preparation at the Department.
Type of employment: Fixed-term employment, HF 5 kap 7§ Doctoral position
Extent: 100 %
Location: Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science, Gothenburg
First day of employment: By agreement
The University applies a local agreement on salaries for doctoral students.
Queries about possible topics for study should be directed to Professor Joakim Sandberg, Project leader +46 (0) 31 - 786 4571 email@example.com
Queries about the recruitment process should be directed to Jennifer Stråle, HR officer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Union representatives at the University of Gothenburg can be found here:
In order to apply for a position at the University of Gothenburg, you have to register an account in our online recruitment system. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application is complete in accordance with the instructions in the job advertisement, and that it is submitted before the deadline. The selection of candidates is made on the basis of the qualifications registered in the application.
Complementary documents, such as non-digital publications/books should be sent in two copies to the following address and marked with reference number. University of Gothenburg, Att: HR Administrator, FLoV, Box 200, SE-405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden.
For the application to be considered complete it must include:
- An introductory letter of 1.000 words maximum (approx. 2 pages), preferably shorter.
- A CV, including a list of publications (if applicable).
- Theses, degree projects and any publications. These are assessed based on the following five quality criteria, of which the final two have the heaviest weighting: Suitable subject definition, relevant questioning, suitable command of the subject and structuring of the thesis, suitable use of language, formalities, academic quality, independence.
- A project draft no more than 2,500 words in which the applicant stipulates the more specific research question that will be studied, describes the theories and perspectives that will be explored, and motives his or her direction in relation to existing research. The project draft is assessed on the basis of the following criteria: whether the draft displays familiarity with previous and current research, whether the research questions are viable and grounded in current research, whether the draft is judged to be realistic as regards its implementation at third-cycle level, and whether the draft shows that it is likely the applicant will make a valuable contribution to research in the field.
- Other documents such as letters of recommendation.
Applications must be received by: January 9, 2023
Information for International Applicants
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Salaries are set individually at the University.
In accordance with the National Archives of Sweden’s regulations, the University must archive application documents for two years after the appointment is filled. If you request that your documents are returned, they will be returned to you once the two years have passed. Otherwise, they will be destroyed.
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