JOB: Fully-funded PhD position (0.8-1.0 fte, 4-5 years) in History of 20th-Century Philosophy (of Science), ERC StG/NWO Vidi project “Exiled Empiricists” (Tilburg University)

The Department of Philosophy at Tilburg University seeks to appoint a PhD-researcher (4 or 5 years, 0,8 – 1,0 FTE)in the ERC StG/NWO Vidi project “Exiled Empiricists: American Philosophy and the Great Intellectual Migration”. Starting date: September 2023.

Job description

The candidate’s primary responsibility will be to write a dissertation and/or a series of academic papers on the institutional reception of refugee philosophers in the United States in the 1930s (working package B3 of the ERC research project, description below). They will study the records of American philosophy departments, journals and/or funding agencies and examine the processes that contributed to the successful (or unsuccessful) integration of different groups of philosophers. The researcher should also contribute to the project in other ways, such as attending the project meetings, giving conference presentations, and (co-)organizing reading groups and workshops. Furthermore, the candidate will be involved in teaching courses in our BA program and/or non-philosophy Bachelor programs (up to 10% of total task allocation) and will be a member of the Tilburg Center for Moral Philosophy, Epistemology and Philosophy of Science (TiLPS) and contribute to its colloquia and seminars.

The project

Exiled Empiricists: American Philosophy and the Great Intellectual Migration

The Exiled Empiricists project is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) and the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and led by Sander Verhaegh within the Tilburg Center for Moral Philosophy, Epistemology and Philosophy of Science (TiLPS), Tilburg University. The project currently employs three postdocs, a research assistant, and an external Ph.D. member.

Summary: In the 1930s, hundreds of European academics fled to the United States, escaping the quickly deteriorating political situation on the continent. Among them were a few dozen philosophers from a variety of schools: logical empiricists, critical theorists, and phenomenologists. Especially the first group would have a tremendous impact on American philosophy. Whereas the local intellectual climate had been dictated by American traditions like pragmatism, U.S. philosophers soon began to advance views that were heavily indebted to the empiricists. In fact, much of academic philosophy today is still shaped by the discussions and practices first instigated in this disruptive period.

Although historians have reconstructed the fate of the exiled empiricists, little attention has been paid to the American context in which their movement came to full bloom. This is surprising, since any account of the empiricists’ success requires an explanation of why the Americans were so receptive to their views. To what extent did developments in American philosophy pave the way for logical empiricism? And why was the American community more receptive to empiricism than to critical theory or phenomenology? This project shifts the perspective from the refugees to the local philosophical climate by 1) quantitatively analyzing thousands of American journal publications and 2) qualitatively examining the archives of dozens of key American philosophers and institutions.

A more detailed description of the project, including working package B3 (to which the PhD candidate will contribute), can be found here.

Requirements position

We are looking for a candidate who satisfies the following requirements:

  • A completed MA or MSc in philosophy, HPS, STS, intellectual history or a related field.
  • Affinity with the topic of the project
  • C1-level speaking and writing skills in English.
  • Experience with archival studies is an advantage but not a requirement.
  • Experience with digital humanities methods and/or willingness to employ these tools is an advantage but not a requirement.
  • An entrepreneurial and team player attitude.
  • Willingness to move to (the vicinity of) Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Terms of Employment

This is a position for 0,8 – 1,0 fte (32 – 40 hours per week) of full working hours. You will be given a temporary employment contract for the duration of 12 months, with a possible extension of 36 months.

Tilburg University offers excellent employment conditions with attention to flexibility and (personal)development and attractive fringe benefits. The salary amounts to a minimum of € 2.541 gross per month for full-time employment, based on UFO profile PHD and salary scale 10 of the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. Tilburg University uses a neutral remuneration system for salary scaling that is based on work experience.

You are entitled to a vacation allowance of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% of your gross annual income. If you work 40 hours per week, you will receive 41 paid days of leave per year. Researchers from outside the Netherlands may qualify for a tax-free allowance of 30% of their taxable salary if they meet the relevant conditions. The university applies for this allowance on their behalf. Successful candidates must remain at least 80% of their working days in the Netherlands (as a requirement of tax and social security laws).

We make clear agreements about career paths and offer all kinds of facilities and arrangement to maintain an optimal balance between work and private life. You can also follow numerous training courses, for example, in the areas of leadership skills, personal effectiveness, and career development. All employees of the university are covered by the so-called General Pension Fund for Public Employers (Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP).

Tilburg University values an open and inclusive culture. We embrace diversity and encourage the mutual integration of groups of employees and students. We focus on creating equal opportunities for all our employees and students so that everyone feels at home in our university community. Tilburg University has a lively campus in beautiful green surroundings that is easily accessible by public transport. We are committed to a sustainable society and challenge you to make an active contribution.

Please visit working at Tilburg University for more information on our terms of employment.

Further information and application

For inquiries about the positions and the project, please contact the Principal Investigator of the project, Sander Verhaegh, at A.A.Verhaegh[at]

The candidate should submit all of the following documents:

(1) a letter of application, in which you describe your personal motivation and qualifications for the position. Please include explanations of any circumstances that you would like to be taken into account when considering your application (e.g. impact of Covid-19 restrictions, parental leave, etc.);

(2) a CV, including the names and contact information of two academic referees. (reference letters will be requested only for shortlisted candidates);

(3)A transcript of master and bachelor degrees

(4) A copy of your final MA/MSc thesis or a writing sample (in English) of which you are the sole author.


Note for MA students who have not finished their program: your application will only be taken into account if you can provide a letter from your thesis supervisor that you are on track to finish your thesis by 1 September 2023.

The deadline for applications is 8 May 2023. We will inform shortlisted candidates, before 26 May 2023. Interviews will be held on 5 and 6 June (online or on campus). Decisions will be announced in the week of 12 June 2023.

Applications must be submitted online.

The Department

The Department of Philosophy (DFI) at Tilburg University is both an important center of academic teaching and internationally recognized for its research. It offers a lively, amicable and stimulating teaching and research environment. The department provides a supportive, collegial environment free from the (unhealthy) climate of competition that has become the standard in academia. Philosophical research at Tilburg is often done in an interdisciplinary framework. Research is organized in two groups: TiLPS (Tilburg Center for Moral Philosophy, Epistemology and Philosophy of Science) and PHC&E (Philosophy of Humanity, Culture, and Ethics).


Tilburg University’s motto is Understanding Society. Based on this vision, our more than 2,800 employees conduct research, inspire more than 20,000 students of 110 nationalities, and bring people from different disciplines and organizations together to learn from each other. In this way, we want to contribute to solving complex social issues. In doing so, we work from the fields of economics, business and entrepreneurship, social and behavioral sciences, law and public administration, humanities and digital sciences, and theology. We seek the connection between the various disciplines to find solutions to the major issues we face as a society. Our students are educated to become responsible and entrepreneurial thinkers, driven by solidarity, a sense of responsibility, and empathy, who are able to influence and give direction to a rapidly changing society in an innovative way. Tilburg University has a culture of collaboration and co-creation, at local, regional, national, and international level.