The Section for History and Philosophy of Science in the Department of Science Education invites applicants for a PhD position in philosophy of science. The selected candidate will be employed in the research project “Tackling the conservationist’s dilemma: towards a pluralist philosophy of taxonomy for species conservation policy”, financed by the Independent Research Fund Danmark.  

Start date is in January 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The project
The aim of the overall research project is to develop an empirically informed philosophical framework for addressing the conservationist’s dilemma. This dilemma arises from the fact that, in their efforts protect (critically) endangered species, conservation policy makers can be confronted with disputes among biological taxonomists about how to individuate those species in the first place. On the one hand, species conservation programs cannot wait for the resolution of such disputes; on the other hand, these programs risk being misdirected if they are rooted in flawed taxonomic perspectives. In addressing this dilemma, the project will break new ground in the burgeoning philosophical scholarship on the role of values in science, advance research in the philosophy of taxonomy, and forge new connections between these domains of research. In addition, the project will provide actionable philosophical knowledge for taxonomists and conservationists who face the conservationist’s dilemma in practice.

A key aim of the PhD (sub)project will be to develop an account of epistemic risks at the interface between taxonomy and conservation policy. However, there will be considerable room for the PhD to tailor their subproject to their own background and interests. In addition to the PhD student, the project will also employ a Post-doc.

A copy of the research project proposal is available upon request from the PI, Dr. Joeri Witteveen (

Who are we looking for?
Applicants should have a background in philosophy, history and philosophy of science, science and technology studies, or a related field of study. Additional training in a relevant area of biology (in particular taxonomy, ecology, or conservation biology) is strongly preferred.

About the Section for History and Philosophy of Science
We offer creative and stimulating working conditions in a dynamic and international research environment. The Section for History and Philosophy of Science currently has 10 permanent faculty members. Our research is dedicated to history and philosophy of science, with a focus on practice-oriented and empirically informed history and philosophy of science, addressing epistemological and ethical aspects of science and its use. Our website provides more information on the members of the Section and the research we conduct. The Section for History and Philosophy of Science is part of the Department of Science Education, in the Faculty of SCIENCE at University of Copenhagen. We are located centrally in Copenhagen, in the Niels Bohr Building near the central park Fælledparken.

Principal supervisor is Dr. Claus Emmeche, but day-to-day supervision will be in the hands of Dr. Joeri Witteveen (PI of the project). Dr. Witteveen will become the principal supervisor in course of the PhD fellowship, upon his promotion to associate professor. Please direct any questions you might have about the position to Dr. Witteveen (

The PhD programme

Qualifications needed
To be eligible for the PhD programme, you must have completed a degree programme, equivalent to a Danish master’s degree (180 ECTS/3 FTE BSc + 120 ECTS/2 FTE MSc) related to the subject area of the project, e.g. in history and philosophy of science, philosophy, or science and technology studies. For information on eligibility of completed programmes, see General assessments for specific countries and Assessment database.

Terms of employment
Employment as PhD fellow is full time and for maximum 3 years.

Employment is conditional upon your successful enrolment as a PhD student at the PhD School at the Faculty of SCIENCE, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the applicant.

The terms of employment and salary are in accordance to the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State (AC). The position is covered by the Protocol on Job Structure.

Responsibilities and tasks

  • Carry through an independent research project under supervision
  • Complete PhD courses corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS / ½ FTE
  • Participate in active research environments, including a stay at another research institution, preferably abroad
  • Teaching and knowledge dissemination activities (corresponding to approx. 1/2 FTE)
  • Write scientific papers aimed at high-impact journals
  • Write and defend a PhD thesis on the basis of your project

We are looking for the following qualifications:

  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD project
  • Relevant publications
  • Relevant work experience
  • Other relevant professional activities
  • Curious mind-set with a strong interest in practice-oriented philosophy of science
  • Good language skills

Application and Assessment Procedure
Your application including all attachments must be in English and submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.

Please include

  1. Cover letter (max. two pages)
  2. Motivation letter explaining your reasons for applying for this particular PhD position (max. one page)
  3. Curriculum vitae including information about your education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position
  4. Original diplomas (Bachelor and Master degree or equivalent) and a transcript of records in the original language, including an authorized English translation if issued in another language than English or Danish. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor is accepted.
  5. Publication list (if available)
  6. Names and email addresses of two references (reference letters are not required)

Application deadline:
The deadline for applications is Sunday  28  August 2022, 23:59 GMT +2.

We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

The further process
After deadline, a number of applicants will be selected for academic assessment by an unbiased expert assessor. You are notified, whether your application will selected for assessment.

The assessor will assess the qualifications and experience of the shortlisted applicants with respect to the above mentioned research area, techniques, skills and other requirements. The assessor will conclude whether each applicant is qualified. The assessed applicants will have the opportunity to comment on their assessment. You can read about the recruitment process at

Interviews with selected candidates are expected to be held on Friday, 7 October 2022. Interviews will be conducted remotely, using Zoom.

For specific information about the PhD fellowship, please contact Dr. Joeri Witteveen (

General information about PhD study at the Faculty of SCIENCE is available at the PhD School’s website:

The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding community and invites all regardless of personal background to apply for the position.


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