Call for Applications: PhD Position

Please note that this is not the official announcement; it is an informal version. The official version (which is less informative) can be found here.

The “Culpable Ignorance Project” seeks to fill a position for a PhD Position (65% E 13 TVL) with a starting date of 1 October 2022 (an earlier or later starting date can be negotiated).

Terms and Conditions

  1. The position is for a fixed term of three years. The fixed-term nature of the contract is based upon Section 2 of the academic fixed-term labor contract act (Gesetz über befristete Arbeitsverträge in der Wissenschaft, WissZeitVG). Candidates who began their PhD more than 10 years ago are strongly advised to contact us prior to submission of their application for clarification of the regulations.
  2. The salary scale is 65% of E13 TVL.
  3. Informal note: The gross salary is roughly 33.000€ per year, depending on working experience. Information about the TV-L salary groups can be found at
  4. This is a 65% position.
  5. The University aims to increase the number of women in research and teaching andexplicitly encourages women to apply. Equally qualified female applicants will receive preference in accordance with the Hamburg act on gender equality (Hamburgisches Gleichstellungsgesetz, HmbGleiG).

About the Project

Organizational misconduct often stems not from bad motives, but from ignorance. For instance, silence of research departments about side effects delays the recalling of drugs. Lack of coordination between police departments hampers finding serial killers. Such ignorance is culpable if organizations could have known better.

The goal of the project is to investigate what organizations have a duty to know, and which qualities help them to fulfil these duties. The research group approaches this research question in a highly interdisciplinary manner. The project is grounded in social epistemology, and draws on the emerging field of epistemic virtue and vice theory. To answer the question of which qualities help organizations to fulfil their duties to know, we use quantitative and qualitative research methods, from interviews to case studies and the development of psychometric scales to measure epistemic virtue and vice. The project will help to better understand an overlooked cause of corporate misconduct, providing guidance to organizations and regulators to prevent culpable ignorance.

The project is a junior research group situated at the University of Hamburg. It is funded by the Volkswagen Stiftung in their “Freigeist” program. It started on 16 February 2021 and runs for five years. Marco Meyer is the Principia Investigator. Tong Li is the Pos Doc on the project. This call is to fill the PhD position on the project.

More information about the project can be found here.


The successful applicant will work on a dissertation project in philosophy, in the area of social epistemology of organizations. Purely conceptual or theoretical dissertation projects are possible. However, there will also be opportunities for the successful applicant to enrich their philosophical work by conducting qualitative or quantitative empirical research. The project team would support the applicant in acquiring the respective empirical research skills. 

The scope of the dissertation project will be determined with the successful applicant. Depending on the interests of the applicant, the project can be more theoretical or more applied, and be more or less interdisciplinary. Here are a few examples of research questions that the successful candidate might pursue:

  • Can collectives be epistemically virtuous or vicious?
  • Are there any exclusively collective epistemic virtues and vices?
  • Can proposals for ameliorating epistemic vices be extended to the collective level?
  • Do collectives have epistemic duties?
  • What kind of incentive structures enable the efficient, reliable and fair pursuit of knowledge? 
  • How can the epistemic performance of knowledge institutions such as universities, think tanks and media organizations be improved by careful design?

In addition, the successful applicant is expected to participate in regular research events and take on administrative duties such as the organization of workshops and conferences. Given the collaborative nature of the research setting, the successful applicant is expected to work together with other project members to ensure that the project’s goals are achieved.

There are no teaching requirements.


A university degree in philosophy. Applicants who pursed combined degrees such as Philosophy, Politics, and Economics or philosophy combined with any other discipline are encouraged to apply. The successful applicant is expected to have obtained their Master’s degree by the time they take up their position.

Applicants should have some previous knowledge of the topics of the project, including some of the following fields: social epistemology, applied ethics, organizational psychology, or organizational sociology. No experience with conducting empirical research is required.

Applications will be given preference if they can demonstrate the following:

  • the willingness and ability to work in a collaborative and highly interdisciplinary research environment
  • experience of giving research presentations
  • excellent organizational skills
  • excellent interpersonal and communication skills

Qualified disabled candidates or applicants with equivalent status receive preference in the application process.

How to Apply

Applications should include:

  • Cover letter
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Research proposal (1-2 pages)
  • One sample of written work, shorter than 8.000 words (longer essays: indicate parts to read)
  • Copies of degree certificate(s)
  • If applicable ID attesting to your disability or proof of equivalent status

Research proposal: Note that it is very much expected that your research focus will change as you start working on the PhD. The function of the research proposal is that you demonstrate the ability to 1) articulate a research question and why it is relevant, 2) situate the research question in the literature, and 3) indicate how you might go about answering the research question. If you are not sure yet what to work on, pick any research question in the area and build it out into a proposal.

Please be in touch with any questions you might have.

Submit application


The application deadline is 23 May 2022.

Job interviews will take place during the weeks of 30 May and 6 June. Interviews will be conducted via zoom.