Postdoctoral Researcher Philosophy/STS

Updated: 15 days ago
Deadline: 24 May 2020

The project is led by dr. Jurgen Goossens (Public Law and Governance Department).
Dr. Esther Keymolen (Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society) is co-leader of the project, and dr. Damian Tamburri (Jheronimus Academy of Data Science) complements the initial project team.

The project focuses on complexity due to hyper-connectivity of public and private actors when exercising public tasks using distributed ledger technologies, such as blockchain. In order to solve pressing societal issues, public actors increasingly exercise public authority through network governance together with private actors, resulting in complex public-private relationships. Additionally, the increasing interest of public actors in blockchain technologies to mediate public-private relationships, enlarges this complexity, bringing forth three fundamental problems:

Public values of the rule of law such as foreseeability, transparency and reason-giving do not necessarily align with values in network governance such as efficiency and scalability, resulting in value conflicts.

  • Due to unclear rules and value conflicts citizens might experience vulnerability and uncertainty, negatively impacting the trust relationship with their government.
  • The increased use of private actors and distributed technologies to exercise public authority may cause uncertainty for citizens in terms of legal protection. 

The project aim is to answer the following questions: 

  • Which value conflicts arise when public authority is exercised through distributed technologies;
  • What are the rule of law conditions necessary to steer the role and responsibilities of public actors using distributed technologies? 
  • The project takes an interdisciplinary design approach and analyses two case studies (granting government subsidies via blockchain-based smart contracts and the CJIB Financial Emergency Brake blockchain pilot based on zero-knowledge proof technology and self-sovereign identity to help people in debt pay their fines by signaling inability to pay in a timely fashion). 

    Combining expertise from philosophy, law, and computer science, this project rethinks and operationalizes the rule of law values to achieve ‘transparency, trust and legitimacy by design. The research results will empower partners and stakeholders to develop, implement, and use blockchain applications in a legally and socially acceptable way.

    Research (0.8 fte):

    • Actively contribute to the operationalization of the NWO-MVI project ‘The Role and Responsibilities of Public Actors in Distributed Networks Transparency, Trust and Legitimacy by Design’, participate in and organize events and activities, present and discuss scientific and valorization output;
    • Pursue academically path-breaking research leading to articles in excellent, peer-reviewed journals;
    • Be an active member of the department LTMS by participating in and organizing LTMS events and activities, presenting and discussing research output within the department, and representing LTMS outside Tilburg University;

    Teaching (0.2 fte):

    • Co-supervise Law & Technology master thesis students; 
    • Assist in the coordination and management of courses at the undergraduate and/or LLM programs that LTMS is involved in; 
    • Cooperate with other LTMS members in developing new or modifying existing courses. 

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