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Personal profile


“It makes sense to attribute significant forms of agency to many current robotic technologies. But this agency is typically best seen as a type of collaborative agency, in which the other key partners are humans.”

Research profile

Sven Nyholm is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Ethics at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). His main areas of research are applied ethics (especially the ethics of technology), ethical theory, and the history of ethics. More specifically, he has recently published on love-relationships and biomedical enhancements, sex robots, motivation-enhancements, accident-algorithms for self-driving cars, deep brain stimulation, happiness and well-being, meaning in life, and interpersonal respect and moral reasoning.

Nyholm’s work also focuses on the ethics of automated driving, human-robot collaboration, deep brain stimulation (including its effect on the self), and disability and the goods of life. He is especially interested in how robotization and other types of automation affect traditional human values, as well as in existential questions raised by new technological developments.

Academic background

Sven Nyholm received his PhD from the University of Michigan in 2012. His dissertation, on Kant’s ethics, was awarded the Proquest Distinguished Dissertation Award. A revised version, with the title Revisiting Kant’s Universal Law and Humanity Formulas, was published in book form by De Gruyter in 2015. Before joining the faculty at TU/e in 2015, Nyholm  worked at the University of Cologne for three years. Nyholm’s undergraduate education was at Lund University in Sweden, where he received a BA and an MA in philosophy in 2005.

His articles have appeared in general philosophy journals, ethics journals, and bioethics journals including Journal of the American Philosophical Association, European Journal of Philosophy, Metaphilosophy, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, Journal of Applied Philosophy and The Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics. A co-authored article (on happiness) appeared in the first volume of the Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy. More recently, a co-authored article on love and sex robots appeared in an anthology on Robot Sex published by the MIT Press.

Nyholm is currently writing a second book (under contract with Rowman & Littlefield International), about the ethics of responsible human-robot interaction, with a special focus on the human tendency to anthropomorphize robots. 

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Sven Nyholm is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

robot Social Sciences
Deep Brain Stimulation Medicine & Life Sciences
love Social Sciences
moral philosophy Social Sciences
brain Social Sciences
Medicalization Medicine & Life Sciences
Ethicists Medicine & Life Sciences
Technology Medicine & Life Sciences

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Projects 2018 2020

Working ‘with’ or ‘against’ the machine? Optimizing human-robot collaboration in logistic warehouses

Jansen, R., Jansen, R., Nyholm, S., Nyholm, S., Gerrits, E., Vereggen - Tielemans, T., Vereggen - Tielemans, T. & Smids, J.


Project: Research direct

Research Output 2014 2019

From sex robots to love robots: is mutual love with a robot possible?

Nyholm, S. R. & Frank, L. E., 1 Oct 2017, Robot sex: social and ethical implications. Danaher, J. & McArthur, N. (eds.). Cambridge: MIT Press

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

freedom of will
16 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)

Deep brain stimulation, continuity over time, and the true self

Nyholm, S. R. & O'Neill, E. R. H., 16 Sep 2016, In : Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics. 25, 4, p. 647-658 12 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
Deep Brain Stimulation
50 Citations (Scopus)
896 Downloads (Pure)

The ethics of accident-algorithms for self-driving cars: an applied trolley problem?

Nyholm, S. R. & Smids, J., 1 Nov 2016, In : Ethical Theory and Moral Practice. 19, 5, p. 1275–1289 16 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
moral philosophy
decision making
6 Citations (Scopus)

Love troubles: Human attachment and biomedical enhancements

Nyholm, S., May 2015, In : Journal of Applied Philosophy. 32, 2, p. 190-202

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Kant's universal law formula revisited

Nyholm, S., 1 Apr 2015, In : Metaphilosophy. 46, 2, p. 280-299 20 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Immanuel Kant
Selective Attention


ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award

Sven Nyholm (Recipient), 2012

Prize: OtherCareer, activity or publication related prizes (lifetime, best paper, poster etc.)Scientific

earning a doctorate
field of study

Activities 2016 2019

  • 4 Invited talk
  • 3 Keynote talk
  • 1 Editorial activity
  • 1 Contributed talk

Springer Verslag series Medical Radiology (Publisher)

Sven Nyholm (Editorial board member)
9 Apr 2019

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditorial activityScientific

Turn me on

Sven Nyholm (Speaker)
7 Apr 2019

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talkPopular

Human Minds meet Artificial Intelligence: Challenges and Opportunities for Ethical AI

Sven Nyholm (Speaker)
29 Nov 2018

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talkScientific

Artificial Agency, Human Responsibility: an “existential” problem

Sven Nyholm (Speaker)
29 Jun 2018

Activity: Talk or presentation typesContributed talkScientific

Theory of Mind and the 'True Self'

Sven Nyholm (Speaker)
20 Jun 2018

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talkScientific