Vacancy Theological Perspectives on Family Responsibility ‘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 investigate the fundamental questions in relation to a concrete field of life: end of life, family and human rights. From 1 September 2019, for the project on family, 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 Dr. Petruschka Schaafsma 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 5: Theological perspectives on family responsibility
Do we have a special responsibility for family members? The government and healthcare institutions seem to assume that this is the case, especially now that the welfare state is waning. The blood relationship, or a lasting partner relationship, is then normative. In the meantime, the blood tie and sustainable relations are questioned as to their normativity for family law. Instead the reality of the actual caring relationship has become a crucial factor in determining rights and duties of family members.
It is clear that two views of a ‘moral compass’ are at stake here that cannot simply be traced back to each other: founded in a ‘natural’ family tie, or rather in an intensive kind of care relationship. This ambiguity is the reason for this project. The strong appeal to the family tie needs a convincing substantiation. How could this be given? Are the options mentioned the only ones, and are they convincing? Can the appeal to a family tie be substantiated or explained? Is it not primarily an expression of a mystery that we experience as somehow given? And to what extent should we take this experience ethically seriously?
The first step of the research consists of further analyzing the aforementioned ambiguity in the public domain, varying from legislation to policy of care institutions and public debate. In a second step, this current situation is associated with prevailing ethical views on family responsibility from within and outside theology. Also among ethicists, the emphasis is on either the blood tie or the special relationship that is created by a shared history and care for each other. Do these visions help to better understand the current situation? In the third step, the illuminating power of the notion of a ‘moral compass’ in this area is further investigated, with special attention to possible theological elaborations. A theological perspective has a special sensitivity to the possibly ‘holy’, unassailable or transcendent character of the of good. Is this also present in the case of family responsibility? A critical perspective is always presupposed in this study, because it is clear that the good is never given with the family bond as such. There is a great risk that family responsibility due to this 'holy' character remains without critical reflection and substantiation. Is a theological use of the idea of a moral compass that is both critical and constructive possible in this field of morality?

• 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 and to relate them to topical issues and debates in society at large
• the ability to make creative connections based on this analysis of sources with the questions that are central to the 'Moral Compass Project' about the recognisability of the good and the transcendent or divine character of the good, with a view to making a constructive contribution to this project.

Proficiency in working creatively with Biblical and literary sources in one's own ethical reflection is recommended.

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 characterised by an fascination for what belief and religion actually mean for people. From that fascination, we conduct relevant academic research on the developments in society and church also worldwide. In our education programmes 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 Dr. Petruschka Schaafsma, 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 18 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.