Friday, October 9, 2009

PhD Fellowship, Ghent University (HPS, philosophy of economics)

The Department of philosophy and moral sciences Ghent University has a vacancy for a PhD researcher in connection with the research professorship of Prof. Dr. Eric Schliesser. The area of interest is open with a slight preference for candidates interested in history and philosophy of science, early modern philosophy, philosophy and history of economics, and the role of sympathy in moral sciences/ethics.

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Eric Schliesser.
Starting date: between June 1 and October 1, 2010.
Period: four years.
Salary: approx. 1700 EUR/month (net).
Profile of the candidate:
- Independent, passionate thinker.
- Entrepreneurial attitude.
- Master’s degree in philosophy (or equivalent in exact science, economics, history, or Latin with strong interest in philosophy).
- Able to read, speak and write in English fluently.

Task of the researcher:
The research has to result in a PhD thesis.
The researcher will present the fruits of his/her research at international conferences. S/he will be expected to publish regularly research results in international, refereed journals.
The researcher is expected to organize at least one international conference on the topic of her dissertation. S/he is expected to spend some of his/research time with top-experts at universities abroad. The researcher is expected to be an active participant in the exciting intellectual life of the department and to be eager to keep developing philosophically.

If you are interested in this position, send an email with your dissertation proposal (ca. 1000 words), a CV and list of publications (if any) to Eric Schliesser (, no later than 30 December 2009.


  1. "Entrepreneurial attitude"? I'm having difficulty imagining what that could mean in an academic philosophy job.

  2. In the European academic and funding environment this means a) willingness to write research grants; b) willingness to organize workshops, conferences, symposia; c) willingness to put together edited volumes; d) willingness to create longterm research projects; e) willingness to 'sell' one's research and show interest in others. Some may find this all very far removed from "philosophy", but that is a debate for another time.

  3. So, to be short: "entrepreneurial attitude" means: Willingness to be the personal slave of the Great Professor Schliesser ;-)

  4. Anonymous, you may be the first (and probably last) person to refer (however sarcastic) to Schliesser as "Great!"

  5. interesting, Dr. Schliesser... you have not commented on the "slavery" comment.. does this mean you agree with it :-)

  6. mg, I don't see how 'slavery' follows from points a through e. Anyway, PhD students are near-equivalents of civil servants in Flanders, so they have many workers' rights. Not to mention the nice pay.

  7. The status of a PhD student in Flanders is, especially compared to the US and Britain, quite advantageous, no doubt about that. That is the official part of the issue. What I am curious about is whether or not you do agree with the general and bitter perception that PhD students (and maybe post-docs as well) are the intellectual (or personal) slaves of the professors. You have been on both sides, quite recently, and I would like to know how you think about it.

  8. Muhammed, it is demeaning to those suffering from slavery (still a reality in some parts of the world) to compare the fate of PhD students (on nice salaries, with personal and intellectual freedoms, etc), however beholden to the whims of their advisors, to them.

    My advertisement says quite clearly that "the area of interest is open" and that I am looking for an "independent" thinker. So, that should tell you how I think about these matters. But self-deception is so common that I cannot hope to avoid some share in it.

    PhD advisors and their students have mutual obligations and responsibilities. These can be interpreted in a variety and sometimes very painful ways. (For example, two of my former advisors thought I should find a different profession [no doubt some readers of this blog agree!], and thought they acted ethically in pressing this view strongly on me.) In my view the PhD advisor has a duty to ensure that the PhD student writes his/her best possible dissertation and has a great shot at an academic position at the end of it. Sometimes this goes very swimmingly sometimes it is painful for everybody. But maybe ask me this question when I have a longer track record?

  9. Thank you very much Dr. Schliesser, for this open and sincere answer. I mysefl have had some painful experiences with my previous supervisors as well and unfortunately have witnessed professors treating their students in really terrible ways. But then again the fields were more applied and engineering like where students were expected to conduct "hard and heavy labor" and "free thinking" or "critical thinking" or critism was not welcome at all and students were most of the time "motivated" bein reminded that they could "loose" their assistantship, or in other words that they could get fired, anytime.
    My question may as well be triggered by Anonymous' comment, but in fact my purpose was to understand how your approach would be, and by that, to help out the candidates. ;-)

  10. hey professor schliesser! found your phd student yet?



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