Phd Position In Argumentative Explainable Artificial Intelligence (1.0 Fte)

Utrecht University


May 31, 2022


PhD position in Argumentative Explainable Artificial Intelligence (1.0


Job description

If we want to apply artificial intelligence (AI) in high-risk domains, such as health care and the legal system, the applications need to be transparent and trustworthy. Additionally, they need to comply with an increasing range of ethical and legal guidelines. The fast-growing research area of eXplainable Artificial Intelligence (XAI) is aimed at increasing transparency and trust by providing explanations for AI systems and the decisions they make. Research in XAI has mainly been focused on making learning-based approaches to AI more transparent. However, these approaches do not account for the use of prior knowledge and reasoning in human cognition. Furthermore, they do not take the important aspect of contestability of explanations into account. In this project, you will study knowledge-based approaches to XAI, specifically approaches to XAI based on computational argumentation (Dung, 1995).

  • investigate how the benefits of explicit knowledge and argumentation can be implemented for XAI;
  • determine what makes good argumentation-based explanations;
  • and apply argumentation-based approaches to provide explanations for outcomes of other AI approaches, such as (deep) machine learning.
  • Besides conducting research, you will spend 30% of your time on teaching activities.You will join the Intelligent Systems Group at the Department of Information and Computing Sciences at Utrecht University. This group has a strong tradition in logic and AI, including computational argumentation. Together with the Hybrid Intelligence Centre and the National Police-lab AI, they constitute a vibrant community of researchers on the subjects of XAI and hybrid knowledge-based/machine learning AI. (Borg and Bex, 2021) A. Borg, F. Bex (2021). A Basic Framework for Explanations in Argumentation. IEEE Intelligent Systems.(Cyras et al., 2021) K. Cyras, A. Rago, E. Albini, P. Baroni and F. Toni (2021). Argumentative XAI: A Survey. In: Proceedings of IJCAI'21.(Dung, 1995) P.M. Dung (1995). On the acceptability of arguments and its fundamental role in nonmonotonic reasoning, logic programming and n-person games. Artificial Intelligence Journal.


    We are looking for a candidate with:

  • a Master's degree in Artificial Intelligence or a related field (e.g., computer science, logic, mathematics or philosophy);
  • a strong background in logic and/or knowledge-based approaches to (X)AI;
  • excellent English communication skills (written and spoken);
  • a background and/or an interest in machine learning or ethical/legal aspects of XAI is a plus.
  • Offer

  • a position for five years;
  • a full-time gross salary that starts at €2,443 and increases to €3,122 per month (scale P of the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities (cao));
  • 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.
  • About the organization

    The interdisciplinary research of this position fits well within the Department of Information and Computing Sciences. In our constantly changing (digital) society, the Department of Information and Computing Sciences is constantly looking for new, realistic ways to push the boundaries of both science and social application. We contribute to innovative information technologies through the development and application of new concepts, theories, algorithms, and software methods.

    Utrecht University is a friendly and ambitious university at the heart of an ancient city. We love to welcome new scientists to our city – a thriving cultural hub that is consistently rated as one of the world's happiest cities. We are renowned for our innovative interdisciplinary research and our emphasis on inspirational research and excellent education. We are equally well-known for our familiar atmosphere and the can-do attitude of our people. This lively and inspiring academic environment attracts researchers, professors and PhD candidates from all over the globe, making both the university and the Faculty of Science a vibrant international and wonderfully diverse community.

    Additional information

    If you have any questions regarding the position, please contact AnneMarie Borg (

    Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. If you have the expertise and the experience to excel in this role, then simply respond via the “Apply now” button! Please enclose:

  • your letter of motivation;
  • your curriculum vitae (including your MSc course list and a list of your publications, if applicable);
  • the contact details of at least two references.
  • The application deadline is 31/05/2022

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