Call for applications: three Ph.D. Positions (Bern, Karlsruhe; starting date September 2019)

Project "How Far Does Reflective Equilibrium Take Us?"

We are pleased to advertise three Ph.D. positions (one in Bern, two in Karlsruhe) in the project "How Far Does Reflective Equilibrium Take Us?", jointly funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the German Research Foundation. We are looking for dedicated and curious Ph.D. students who do not shy away from getting acquainted with and using formal methods in philosophy, and with whom we can work together to advance our understanding of the scope and limits of reflective equilibrium.


The aim of the project is to study the power of reflective equilibrium (RE). Does this method live up to the expectations that proponents of RE have invested in it? Can it, for instance, promote consensus between parties that disagree initially? Is it suitable for non-ideal agents who are bounded in their rational capacities? Our planned research starts from the diagnosis that these questions could not be answered as long as RE was under-specified. In recent work, we have developed a formal model of RE that can be solved using computer simulations. We will use this model as well as traditional philosophical methods to assess the power of RE.

For a summary of the project and the sub-projects of the Ph.D.s, please see the project description.

The research group will consist of three Ph.D. students, three PIs (C. Beisbart, G. Betz, G. Brun), and a couple of graduate students. Researchers are based in Bern (1 Ph.D. student, 2 PIs) and in Karlsruhe (2 Ph.D. students, 1 PI).

The PhD students are expected to develop their own Ph.D. project within one of the three sub-projects theoretical virtues, process and progress, and disagreement and consensus formation.

The topics of the dissertations are closely related to each other and we will foster sustained collaboration among the project members. Regular jour-fixe meetings (online or face-to-face), extended workshops, tutorials, and mutual lab-visits -- especially in the first project phase -- will make sure that all group members have a common understanding of the project and its background and are acquainted with the formal and computational tools we employ.

We are looking for applicants with:

  • an excellent master’s degree in philosophy, computer science or a related field (to be completed by August 31st, 2019); in any case, a strong background in philosophy is required;
  • a strong interest in epistemology and philosophical method;
  • the willingness and ability to use formal tools and computer simulations in philosophy (programming skills are not required, though an asset; there will be an extra training for the formal aspects of the dissertations);
  • the readiness to contribute to highly collaborative research;
  • the willingness and ability to contribute to organizing the project.

We offer:

  • the opportunity to work on a Ph.D. in philosophy in an internationally oriented research context;
  • attractive working conditions in a highly collaborative research group with several Ph.D.s and two nodes in Bern and Karlsruhe;
  • many opportunities to present and discuss your Ph.D. work;
  • the possibility of shaping the agenda of your research field by co-organizing workshops.


Starting date for employment: September 1st, 2019.

The salaries are as usual in philosophy (SNSF salary for a Ph.D. student in Bern; 50% research assistant position in Karlsruhe).

We value diversity and encourage applications from groups that are under-represented in philosophy.

We kindly ask you to apply by submitting an electronic dossier including (i) a letter of motivation, (ii) a CV, (iii) academic certificates, (iv) a short sketch of a project proposal for your dissertation (no more than 500 words; it should have a strong connection to one of the sub-projects and will be taken as expression of your preference regarding the sub-project) (v) a writing sample (need not be published; e.g. chapter from master thesis; about 7.500 – 12.500 words); and (vi) a list of at least 2 academic references. Please send your material in one pdf-file to Claus Beisbart does-not-exist.philo unibe ch by March 29th, 2019.

Don't hesitate to get in touch with any of the PIs if you have further questions!



Infos on Karlsruhe