Vacancy Law and virtue in the Protestant tradition ‘Moral Compass Project’, Protestant Theological University, Amsterdam

In 2019, the PThU received a major grant for the Moral Compass Project, a seven-year systematic-theological research project. The Moral Compass Project explores how one can meaningfully think about a moral compass that transcends our personal preferences in a situation of moral pluralism. What significance could a ‘moral compass’ have for our human knowledge and experience of the ‘good’? How does a transcendent ‘Good’ relate to ‘good’ that people can discover and experience by themselves? Can we speak meaningfully about the ‘good’ as something that precedes our human understanding of morality, while at the same time it needs to be discovered anew in new situations?

The Moral Compass Project consists of six sub-projects, three of which are on the level of (meta-) ethical theory (1.2.3.), and three which are in the field of applied ethics (4. end of life, 5. family and 6. human rights). From 1 September 2019, for Project 2, we are looking for a

full-time contract PhD candidate 'Moral Compass Project’

As a PhD candidate you will work at our location in Amsterdam. You participate in biweekly meetings with the Moral Compass research group. Your research will be conducted under the supervision of Prof. Pieter Vos and Prof. Maarten Wisse, with whom you will have a monthly consultation. In the first year of your research, you start with writing a research proposal based on the research project as described below. There is room for creativity within the focus of the Moral Compass project as a whole.

Sub project 2: Law and virtue in the Protestant tradition
Since a few decades, virtue ethics has been on a revival. In virtue ethics a teleological conception of the human being is presupposed, in which the human being is aimed at realizing the good life and the common good. What the good is can be known and discovered by our human nature (natural law) or can be found in shared practices and traditions. Virtue ethics is rearticulated in contrast to modern ethics, which focuses rather on ‘general principles’ which, regardless of practices and traditions, should lead to just and right moral actions. Often, the Reformation is seen as the origin of modern ethics, in which the connection has been lost between Gods revealed law and the universal recognizability of the good, as well as between commandments and virtues (Alasdair MacIntyre, Brad Gregory). The question is whether this interpretation is correct. Post-Reformation theologians in particular, developed their ethics on the basis of both divine law and the virtues. In their writings, natural law, virtues and the general recognizability of the good are all present. At the same time they renewed the tradition, on the one hand by correcting classical virtue ethics from Biblical revelation, on the other hand with an open eye towards modernity. The continuity and discontinuity between post-Reformation theology and medieval scholasticism has already been investigated on various themes, but still unexplored is the way in which these post-Reformation theologians connect divine law, human law and virtue. The importance of research into the field of post-Reformation ethics is that a significant link can be found between the classical Christian ethical tradition and modernity. Therefore, the aim of this research is threefold. First, it is aimed at reconstructing the way in which these theologians connect the Reformed emphasis on the Decalogue with classical virtue ethics, and what their views are about the human ability to know the good, despite the sinful nature of the human being. Second, the aim is to deconstruct the dominant narrative that the Reformation has been a major factor in the breakdown of the tradition. Finally, this project constructively examines how post-Reformation theological thought on law and virtue can be made fruitful in our time.

• a degree in theology with a relevant (research) master’s programme, or an equivalent of it;
• a MA-thesis in the field of systematic theology, theological ethics, or another relevant discipline that shows affinity with the project described above;
• affinity with theological research from the profile and perspective of the Protestant Theological University;
• the ability to interpret sources accurately, including texts in Latin (or the willingness to learn Latin);
• the ability to bring these sources creatively into discussion with contemporary issues, especially in relation to the questions central to the Moral Compass Project, about the recognizability of the good and the transcendent or divine character of the good.

Your application should be accompanied by a first draft for a research proposal (max. 2 pages), written in English. We assess the proposal on its quality, innovative character, viability and the extent to which it fits in our research programme.

What do we offer?
At the PThU you will work in an environment that centralises the fascination for what belief and religion actually do in people. From that fascination, we conduct relevant research on the developments in beliefs, church and worldwide Christianity. We train students to be the future ministers of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands as well as general theological experts, and provide post-academic training for ministers and chaplains.

We offer our contract PhD candidates the following:
• You will receive an employment contract of 1.0 fte (full-time equivalent) for one year. After a positive result of the assessment of progress an extension of 2.5 to 3 years will be offered.
• Your salary will be according to the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (salary scale P). This starts from a gross salary of € 2,325 per month in the first year of employment to a maximum gross salary of € 2,972 per month.
• 70% of your commuter travel costs will be reimbursed (public transport, 2nd class). Costs for business related trips will be reimbursed 100% (public transport, 1st class).
• You will have a specific budget for conference and symposia participation as well as for any other competence training activities.

Want to learn more about the application procedure or the position?

Contact Prof. Dr. Pieter Vos, Diese E-Mail-Adresse ist vor Spambots geschützt! Zur Anzeige muss JavaScript eingeschaltet sein!.

Would you like to apply for this job?
Would you like to apply? Please send us your motivation letter, research proposal and curriculum vitae to Diese E-Mail-Adresse ist vor Spambots geschützt! Zur Anzeige muss JavaScript eingeschaltet sein!.

Deadline for applications is 15 june 2019. Job interviews will be held on Thursday 27 June 2019 at the PThU location in Amsterdam.

Our working conditions are primarily governed by the collective labour agreement of the Dutch universities.