PhD Candidate in Data-Driven History and Philosophy of Science

Faculty/Services:  Faculty of Humanities
Educational level:  Master
Function type:  PhD position
Closing date:  29 September 2023
Vacancy number:  12094



Are you looking for a challenging position in a dynamic setting? The Institute for Logic, Language and Computation currently has a vacant PhD position as part of the ‘Open Competitie’ Project Counting the Bees - A Data-Driven Investigation Into Early Modern British Thought, funded by NWO and led by principal investigator Arianna Betti at the Concepts in Motion lab. The ILLC is one of the five Research Schools within the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research.


The ILLC is a research institute in the interdisciplinary area between mathematics, linguistics, music, computer science, philosophy and artificial intelligence. The position will be embedded in the ILLC’s Epistemology and Philosophy of Science Unit (EPS). Counting the Bees fits EPS’s high profile in the newly developed area of computational philosophy, and is conducted as part of research of the Concepts in Motion lab directed by Arianna Betti. The lab pioneers the application of data-driven, computational methods from different strands of AI in the investigation of the development of scientific ideas (concept drift), in particular ideas from logic and methodology of the sciences.


What are you going to do?


Axiomatic science, such as logic or mathematics, is seen by many as incompatible with experimental science. The hypothesis behind Counting the Bees is that this idea is mistaken, and that in the Early Modern period – a time considered the cradle of present-day science - axiomatics was seen as a key component in experimental science as well. We aim to research this hypothesis using a mixed method combining philosophical, data-driven and computational analysis. The data-driven component will rely on massive datasets to be built within the project.

You will work withing a team of philosophers and programmers and in cooperation with the library industry to investigate the following:

Main Question: To what extent did the axiomatic ideal inform thinking about science in British Early Modern science and philosophy, and, if that extent was significant, in what way were the axiomatic and the experimental ideal of science made philosophically compatible?

Your task is to produce at least four top quality publishable research papers on the Main Question of the project using a novel mixed method involving qualitative research in concept modelling and quantitative data-driven history and philosophy of science. The papers must be bundled up in a PhD dissertation ready for defence within four years.

Further information regarding the project and its initial sub questions is available on request to candidates selected to interviews.


Tasks and responsibilities:

  • submission of a PhD thesis within the period of appointment;
  • participating in meetings and other activities of the project research group, including highly interdisciplinary ones, and co-developing shared databases, documentation and other preparatory materials;
  • preparing for publication four top quality articles publishable in top venues;
  • presenting intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;
  • organising knowledge dissemination activities;
  • Teach courses at bachelor’s and/or assist at master’s level in the 2nd and 3rd year (0,2 FTE per year);
  • participation in the Research School and Faculty of Humanities PhD training programmes.


What do you have to offer?


You have an outstanding capability to manage deadlines, are proactive in spotting challenges and opportunities, take initiative, are able to learn from mistakes, are a born teamworker and thrive in interdisciplinary settings.


Your experience and profile:

  • a completed Master's degree in Philosophy or closely similar fields. You may apply if you have not yet completed your Master's degree only if you provide a signed letter from your supervisor stating that you will graduate before the deadline;
  • excellent research skills demonstrated e.g. by an outstanding Master's thesis and demonstrable capacity to develop a track record of publishing peer-reviewed papers or book chapters in high-ranking journals and/or with leading presses;
  • experience with and training in data-driven research and mixed methods, concept-focused historical research and the methodology of the history of philosophy as well as demonstrable interest in the history and philosophy of science;
  • a strong cooperative attitude and willingness to engage in collaborative research;
  • enthusiasm for communicating academic research to non-academic audiences;
  • outstanding command of English.


Knowledge of additional natural languages and programming skills are an advantage.


Please note that if you already hold a doctorate/PhD or are working towards obtaining a similar degree elsewhere, you will not be admitted to a doctoral programme at the UvA.


Our offer


We offer a temporary employment contract for the period of 48 months. The first contract will be for 16 months, with an extension for the following 32 months, contingent on a positive performance evaluation within the first 12 months. The employment contract is for 38 hours a week. The preferred starting date is 15 October or 1 November 2023 but in no case later than 01 January 2024.


The gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week and relevant experience, ranges from € 2,770 up to a maximum of € 3,539. This sum does not include the 8% holiday allowance and the 8,3% year-end allowance. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.


What else do we offer

  • excellent possibilities for further professional development and education;
  • an enthusiastic, inspiring and professional academic team.


About us


The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands' largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 42,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity.


The Faculty of Humanities provides education and conducts research with a strong international profile in a large number of disciplines in de field of language and culture. Located in the heart of Amsterdam, the faculty maintains close ties with many cultural institutes in the capital city. Research and teaching staff focus on interdisciplinary collaboration and are active in several teaching programmes.


Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.




Do you have any questions or do you require additional information? Please contact:


Job application


If you feel the profile fits you, and you are interested in the job, we look forward to receiving your application. You can apply online via the link below. The deadline for applying for this vacancy is 29 September 2023.


Applications should include the following information (submitted in one .pdf by uploading in the required field ‘CV’):

  • A letter of motivation.
  • A full academic CV.
  • A list of all Master-level modules you have taken, with an official transcript of grades.
  • The names and contact details of two references, including your advisor, who may be approached by the selection committee. Note that we only request names at this stage; you are explicitly asked not to provide written evaluation by your referents. Recommendation letters will likely not be requested in this selection at any point, and will be excluded from the applicant’s dossier unless received upon explicit request on our side.


Upon selection for an interview, you might be asked to provide a research proposal as well as the names of two academic referees.

Only complete applications received within the response period via the link below will be considered.


The interviews will be held as soon as possible after the closing date, ideally in week 40 (2 October t/m 8 October 2023), or on a later date should the committee decide to ask for research proposals.


The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

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