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Dr. Simon v.der Weele

Simon v.der Weele

Assistant professor




wetenschappelijk personeel, Leerstoel Burgerschap en Humanisering van de Publieke Sector


I am a philosopher and qualitative researcher working at the intersection of ethics and anthropology. I am fascinated by 'ordinary ethics': the moral tensions, emotions, and decisions that mark our everyday lives. My interest lies in the attempts public professionals make to put weighty ethical ideals into everyday practice.

I received my MA in Cultural Analysis from the University of Amsterdam in 2015 and my PhD from the University of Humanistic Studies in 2022. In 2020, I was a visiting scholar at the department of Medical Humanities of Drew University. In 2022, I received a Fulbright Scholarship to visit Veena Das at the department of Anthropology of Johns Hopkins University.

You can watch me talk about my interest in ethics, dependency, and intellectual disability in my lecture at the Betweter Festival 2021 (in Dutch). 


My research is emphatically interdisciplinary, looking to combine insights and methods from moral philosophy and the social sciences. All my work is driven by my fascination with ethics in everyday life. Broadly speaking, I operate in three areas of research: 

  1. The moral life of professional assistance. My ethnographic projects focus on the moral life of professional assistance in the social and care sectors, particularly services involving people with intellectual disabilities. I have published on how care professionals navigate dependency relationships with people with intellectual disabilities (2020) and on moral experiments with independence in group homes where people with intellectual disabilities live (2021). I have also published a book on dependency and disability for care professionals (2019).

  2. Care theory. In my work, I explore philosophical problems about care, dependency, and vulnerability. My publications include an essay on philosophical disagreements about the concept of "dependency" (2021) and an essay on resonances in the moral philosophies of Eva Kittay and Judith Butler (2021).  

  3. Integrating ethics and the social sciences. Through my work, I attempt to further cross-pollination between moral philosophy and the social sciences. I have written about the use of "thick ethical concepts" for the social sciences (2021) and about normativity in the field of disability studies (2022).  


I teach political and social theory on citizenship, social justice, and the public sector. I also supervise internships and theses in our MA programmes. 

  • In the BA Humanistic Studies, I teach "Promises and Pitfalls of Citizenship", which introduces various political theories of citizenship and applies them on contemporary themes such as multiculturalism, populism, and animal rights.

  • In the MA Humanistic Studies, I teach on citizenship education in "Moral and Citizenship Education" and theories of social justice in "Pursuing Social Justice: Redistribution and Recognition?"