Postdoc position “Ethics of Precommitment”

The Department of Philosophy at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has a vacancy for a postdoc researcher on a project related to the “Ethics of Precommitment” (3-year position).


Job description

What makes actors (individual or corporate) cooperate and comply with policies (e.g., “reduce one’s carbon footprint by 55% in 2030”)? A selected group may not want to cooperate. But others are actually willing to cooperate, but may still fail due to procrastination. Cooperation is costly, and for that reason it can be tempting to put off. Moreover, given certain “intransitive preference loops”, it can be tempting to keep delaying, and one may never meet any deadlines at all (cf. Andreou’s “Environmental preservation and second-order procrastination”, PPA 2007). In such cases, precommitment strategies can help out. Precommitment strategies are techniques to help actors make decisions that align with their own goals. The idea is that they can overcome the temptation to defect by committing in advance to a certain course of action. The question: to what extent should we employ these strategies?

We invite any project proposals that relate to this theme:
- intransitive preferences and self-destructive behaviour
- precommitment vs. resoluteness
- similarity interpersonal and intrapersonal dilemmas
- responsibility questions related to these dilemmas
- instrumental vs. non-instrumental reasons for cooperation
- individual vs. corporate level

The postdoc project will be carried out in close collaboration with Associate Professor Wieland and members of the Moral and Political Philosophy group ( Some of our projects are described here:

Funding: SCOOP (

Your duties
  • conduct research on the “Ethics of Precommitment”, resulting in journal publications
  • participate in the research activities of the VU group and SCOOP
  • participate in relevant national and international research events
  • participate in teaching activities of the group (10% of your time)


  • the candidate has a PhD in Philosophy (obtained before December 31, 2023, at the latest)
  • the candidate is specialized in analytic ethics (as shown in PhD project, publications, and curriculum vitae)
  • affinity with relevant empirical work is an advantage (though not required)
  • excellent spoken and written English as well as strong academic writing skills are essential

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. On full-time basis the remuneration amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of € 3,226 (scale 10) and a maximum € 5,929 (scale 11), depending on your education and experience. The job profile is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for 1 FTE.

The employment contract will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a total duration of 3 years.

Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • contribution to commuting expenses

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 31,000 students. We employ over 5,000 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

Faculty of Humanities
The Faculty of Humanities links a number of fields of study: Language, Literature and Communication, Art & Culture, History, Antiquities and Philosophy. Our teaching and research focus on current societal and scientific themes: from artificial intelligence to visual culture, from urbanization to the history of slavery, from ‘fake news’ in journalism to communication in organizations. We strive to ensure small group sizes. Innovative education and interdisciplinary research are our hallmarks.

Working at the Faculty of Humanities means making a real contribution to the quality of leading education and research in an inspiring and personal work and study climate. We employ more than 450 staff members, and we are home to around 2,000 students.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload:
- your curriculum vitae
- cover letter on your motivation and research qualifications
- research plan (500-800 words)
- writing sample
- two references (name and email)

Deadline application: October 8, 2023
Intended starting date: January 1, 2024

Vacancy questions
Any questions regarding this vacancy may be directed to:
Dr. Jan Willem Wieland,

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

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Job area: Research
Educational Level: Postdoc
VU unit: Faculty of Humanities
Contract type: Temporary
Minimum FTE: 1
Minimum salary scale: €3,226 (scale 10)
Maximum salary scale: €5,929 (scale 11)