PhD Researcher / Lecturer in Foundations of Law – Maastricht University (UM) – Maastricht

Maastricht University (UM)

This position is funded by a Starter Grant from the Faculty of Law, Maastricht University. The grant holder, daily supervisor, and co-promoter for this PhD position is dr. Lukasz Dziedzic and the promoter is prof. dr. Roland Pierik. The successful applicant is expected to prepare a proposal and conduct research in an area closely related to the research project for which the Starter Grant has been awarded.

Research Project
Debates surrounding the concept of the ‘rights of nature’ have gained a certain prominence given the need to find legal approaches to address the massive depletion of ecosystems and the mass extinction of species. In ‘anthropocentric’ law, the protection of nature is achieved by means of environmental law, where nature only has instrumental value for the subject endowed with ultimate value, the human subject with her human rights.

Given the limitations of such an approach, and in reaction to the anthropocentrism of classical environmental law, many have been advocating for an eco-centrism putting the independent interests of natural entities central stage and endowing them with ultimate value as a foundation of independent rights of nature. Eco-centrism in regard to rights of nature can rely on either scientific foundations as the ontological foundation for nature’s ultimate value, or theological/cosmological arguments – as has been the case with many of the practical applications of rights of nature discourses grounded in indigenous cosmologies, for example.

The theoretical problem with such arguments is that they are reliant on either factual scientific claims from which no direct normative claims on the value of nature can be derived (naturalistic fallacy), or they make metaphysical claims, which cannot objectively be assessed. Furthermore, such an approach of grounding rights of nature as moral rights on some conception of the ultimate value of nature potentially smuggles in certain anthropomorphic prerequisites of theories of rights, such as conceptions of autonomy, self-determination, interests and dignity, which might not be necessary as normative foundations in grounding legal rights of nature.

Given these conceptual difficulties, some in-between approaches, trying to keep a critical distance from both anthropocentrism and eco-centrism, have been developed, which are furthermore worth exploring. One such promising approach tries to found rights of nature as legal rights on the rationality of valid property law, trying to use property law by extending property rights to natural entities as a limit to the exploitative tendencies of anthropocentric property relations. Here, also eco-socialist approaches highlighting the ecological rift in the social metabolism between humans and nature can contribute additional arguments for a critique of both anthropocentric law and eco-centric approaches to the rights of nature.

In order to assess the merits of all these different approaches it is also necessary to address some prior questions regarding the legal ontology of the rights of nature. Next to ontological questions, the project also aims to address certain normative questions regarding the compatibility between rights of nature and human rights, especially in cases of conflicts between these different categories of rights.

Job Description
The candidate will:

  • Determine a specific research focus within the research project described above.
  • Regularly meet with the supervisory team to discuss progress.
  • Write and defend a PhD thesis, either in the form of submitted/published articles or a monograph.
  • Teach courses coordinated by the Maastricht Foundations of Law Department, amounting to 0.5fte of the full appointment,
  • Actively participate in the activities of the Maastricht Center for Law & Jurisprudence, including expected presentations in the Maastricht Foundations of Law Colloquia series
  • Take part in training by the Graduate School of Law at Maastricht University.
  • Organize events and conferences.
  • Closely work together with other PhD Researchers at the Maastricht Foundations of Law Department working in areas adjacent to the research project.
  • Requirements

  • Master’s degree in Law, Philosophy or adjacent field.
  • Excellent grades and obvious interest in academic research.
  • Interest in foundations of law more broadly, as well as recent debates regarding law and more than human entities.
  • Excellent organisational skills.
  • Fluency in spoken and written English at an academic level.
  • Readiness to engage in academic teaching, not only in one’s own field but also in the more general legal (skills) courses.
  • Willingness to obtain the University Teaching Qualification (UTQ).
  • Being able to work both independently as well as in a team, with a solution-oriented attitude and a healthy dose of academic curiosity.
  • What we offer
    As PhD Researcher / Lecturer in Foundations of Law at Faculty of Law , you will be employed by the most international university in the Netherlands, located in the beautiful city of Maastricht. In addition, we offer you:

  • Good employment conditions. The position is graded in scale 10 according to UFO profile Docent-Promovendus, with corresponding salary based on experience ranging from €3226,00 and €5090,00 gross per month (based on a full-time employment of 38 hours per week). In addition to the monthly salary, an 8.0% holiday allowance and an 8.3% year-end bonus apply.
  • An employment contract for a period of 12 months with a scope of 1,0 FTE. Upon a positive evaluation, an extension of 5 years will follow.
  • At Maastricht University, the well-being of our employees is of utmost importance, we offer flexible working hours and the possibility to work partly from home if the nature of your position allows it. You will receive a monthly commuting and internet allowance for this. If you work full-time, you will be entitled to 29 vacation days and 4 additional public holidays per year, namely carnival Monday, carnival Tuesday, Good Friday, and Liberation Day. If you choose to accumulate compensation hours, an additional 12 days will be added. Furthermore, you can personalize your employment conditions through a collective labor agreement (CAO) choice model.
  • As Maastricht University, we offer various other excellent secondary employment conditions. These include a good pension scheme with the ABP and the opportunity for UM employees to participate in company fitness and make use of the extensive sports facilities that we also offer to our students.
  • Last but certainly not least, we provide the space and facilities for your personal and professional development. We facilitate this by offering a wide range of training programs and supporting various well-established initiatives such as ‘acknowledge and appreciate’.
  • The terms of employment at Maastricht University are largely set out in the collective labor agreement of Dutch Universities. In addition, local provisions specific to UM apply.

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