Understanding moral change and moral progress.

I work at the intersection of metaethics, epistemology, and moral psychology. I focus on value- and concept change in the context of technology and digital ethics.

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About Michael Klenk

I am Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Delft University of Technology. My research is part of the ERC-funded Value Change project and the Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies research programme. I strive to put my research insights into practice as a member of the Delft Design for Values Institute and as an advisor for Ethical Intelligence . If you want to get in touch, please contact me via email.

During the academic year 2019/20, I worked at the University of St Gallen and the Stanford Social Media Lab as a Visiting Scholar, funded by a Niels Stensen Fellowship. I obtained my PhD in Philosophy in June 2018 at Utrecht University, under the supervision of Herman Philipse. My thesis, Survival of Defeat - Evolution, Moral Objectivity, and Undercutting, was awarded the distinction 'cum laude', the highest possible distinction in the Netherlands.

Apart from my research, I am a columnist at 3Quarks Daily (visit my author page for an overview) and I enjoy organising and participating in outreach events (examples: Ethical Intelligence Podcast on Online Manipulation and DCT, Evolution and Moral Epistemology 2018, Debunking and Disagreement 2017, Dutch-Flemish Day of Philosophy 2017, or Science Slam Stuttgart).

Below is a visualisation of what I have done so far: Degrees and working experience Michael Klenk


  • 2021/07: Registration now open for the 'Changing Values, Changing Technologies' conference that I am co-organising as part of the Value Change Project at TU Delft.
  • 2021/04: Two new papers forthcoming on the impact of situational factors on individuals' moral judgements (Review of Philosophy and Psychology) and how that hampers societal moral progress (with Hanno Sauer, Philosophical Psychology).
  • 2021/02: New paper on the covertness condition of manipulation forthcoming in the Review of Social Economy. Also, I'll be a Visiting Professor at UniSR Milan from March until June 2021.

Submitted / Working Papers

I am currently working on the projects below. Feel free to get in touch!

What is Manipulation?

I develop a novel account of manipulation that characterises manipulation in terms of a certain carelessness about interacting with others. I show that this avoids shortcomings of earlier accounts and evaluate how it helps us make sense of manipulation online.

Status: under review.

Persuasive Technology and the Threat of Manipulation

Many assume that if machines are manipulative, then only indirectly, as tools of their designers. I challenge this assumption and argue that viewing some technology as manipulative in itself is both viable and beneficial.

Status: under review.

Can Objective Values Change?

If technology has an impact on our values, then values can possibly change. I evaluate whether and how this could be the case from the perspective of metaethical value theory.

Status: work in progress.

Value Change and Goodness-Fixing Kinds

A number of philosophers endorse the view that the only value there is is relational. Together with Ibo van de Poel, I argue that this view fails to make sense of changing values.

Status: under review.

Conceptual Ethics and Morality as Cooperation

If we often discuss about how to use our concepts and morality is like a tool that helps us cooperate better, then the problem of widespread moral disagreement seems less daunting for moral realists, or so I argue.

Status: under review.

Moral Uncertainty and Moral Experiments

Together with Ibo van de Poel, I argue that there is an important gap in normative decision theory and we propose structured moral experiments as a possible remedy.

Status: under review.


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Book Reviews

These are the books that I have reviewed. Click on the book to get to the published review.

Terence Cuneo, Speech and Morality
Ethical Perspectives 22 (2) 2015
Bobbi S. Low, Why Sex Matters
Metapsychology 19 (36) 2015
Finn Janning, The Happiness of Burnout
Metapsychology 19 (50) 2015
Zygmunt Bauman et al, Management in a Liquid Modern World
Ethical Perspectives 23 (2) 2016
Erik Wielenberg, Robust Ethics
Dialectica 70 (3) 2016
Thompson, A Remarkable Journey
The Quarterly Review of Biology 91 (3) 2016
Michael Tomasello, A Natural History of Human Morality
Metapsychology 20 (20) 2016
Nicholas Baumard, How Evolution Explains our Moral Nature
Metapsychology 20 (36) 2016
Jussim et al, The Social Psychology of Morality
Metapsychology 20 (48) 2016
Bowles, The Moral Economy
Marx and Philosophy Review of Books, 25.01.2017
Richard Joyce, Essay in Moral Skepticism
Ethical Perspectives 24 (1) 2017
Matthew Liao, Moral Brains
Metapsychology 21 (23) 2017
Elizabeth Anderson, Psyche and Ethos
Metapsychology 22 (48) 2018
Joshua May, Regard for Reason in the Moral Mind
Metapsychology 23 (24) 2019
Sauer, Debunking Arguments in Ethics
Utilitas forthcoming
Poelzler, Moral Reality
International Journal for the Study of Skepticism forthcoming