Please note: The deadline has now passed, and we are no longer accepting applications for this scholarship.
This competitive scholarship is open to applicants from around the globe, providing a full tuition fee waiver and a maintenance stipend of £6,000 per year.
Supervisor: Professor Jesper Kallestrup (firstname.lastname@example.org)
We are increasingly in the grip of an information epidemic, which the spread of health misinformation online along with rising distrust of experts has only served to highlight with tragic emphasis. This project takes as a starting point that addressing the infodemic requires serious engagement not only with its symptoms but also with its fundamental causes - which fall within the remit of social epistemology, which studies how knowledge is shared, and how individuals can become more responsible consumers of information. Those who share fake news online often present themselves as trustworthy and well-informed, in a way that might easily deceive not only dedicated conspiracy theorists, but also those unskilled at distinguishing reliable from unreliable sources. The problem is amplified even further by what science has shown about the spread rate of online misinformation. Most academic research and policy initiatives have focused on treating symptoms of this infodemic rather than the causes. One prominent political strategy aimed at combatting the spread of disinformation has taken the form of deleting content (Facebook) and censoring posters who violate social media terms of policy (Twitter). Such strategies have important shortcomings, as there is evidence that simply hiding content or banning users in cases where the media consumer is not privileged to the rationale for doing so can itself exacerbate conspiratorial thinking patterns, thus, furthering the problem. Even more, content removal policies effectively only sanction violations of existing norms online; such policies neither identify the source of the problem, nor clearly outline positive norms.
The project will use the latest tools of social epistemology and virtue epistemology in order to put our understanding of online inquiry and information sharing on an entirely new footing, to better understand the sources of online epistemic risk, and to better train ourselves to navigate them skilfully. One limitation to previous epistemological approaches to the online infodemic is that they have placed the theoretical focus on brainbound cognition, in isolation from the technologies in which we are deeply and inextricably scaffolded. This kind of focus is unsurprising, given that traditional epistemology has only in the past decade or so begun to theorise about knowledge and intellectual virtues in a way that appreciates how good thinking is not clearly separable in many cases from good cognitive scaffolding, that is, from good and responsible ways of relying on our environments and on technology to further our intellectual goals. The project develops a new and innovative framework for theorizing about digital epistemic virtues, and vices - traits of thinkers that can enable them to better navigate information online, better assess online epistemic risk, and more efficiently convert digital information into digital knowledge. In addition to academic outputs, the project has a practical objective, which is to work with educationalists and policy makers in order to propose new and innovative ways we can educate for digital virtues, and in this way, to put our theory into practice.
Under expert supervision by leading researchers, the PhD candidate will develop their own research questions in social epistemology, with special focus on digital knowledge against the background of a framework for digital epistemic virtues.
This competitive scholarship is open to applicants from around the globe, providing a full tuition fee waiver and a maintenance stipend of £6,000 per year. Subject to satisfactory progress this scholarship will be awarded for 3 years. The successful applicant shall commence study in September 2022.
Applicants must be of outstanding academic merit and potential for independent research, as evidenced by the candidate’s academic record, prior qualifications, proposal and references. Selection will be based on this evidence and upon the strength of the proposed engagement with the advertised research project.
The successful applicant must have at least a 2:1, or international equivalent, degree, in philosophy, which includes courses in epistemology. It is preferable but not a requirement that you hold a Masters relevant to your chosen area of study. Other factors such as financial status and nationality are not taken into account.
Before you apply, please contact the supervisor by email to discuss your potential fit with the project, how your own research interests will benefit the project, and how you intend to frame your research proposal.
You must include a detailed research proposal (1000-1500 words) which sets out how you will engage with the advertised PhD project, degree transcripts and certificates, and be supported by two academic references. Further guidance on research proposal may be found here.
You should mark your application “Digital Knowledge-A New Framework for Digital Epistemic Virtues A New Framework for Digital Epistemic Virtues” in the Intended Source of Funding field on your online application.
30th of June 2022