dr. Edwin Koster

BiographyEdwin Koster

I am a senior lecturer at the Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Humanities of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU). I teach philosophical courses in the Faculty of Life Sciences, the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Studies and the Faculty of Social Sciences. I am also director of the educational program of philosophical reflection for all students at VU Amsterdam.

I studied Mathematics, History and Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Religion and Spanish History, Art and Culture in Amsterdam (VU) Madrid (UCM) en Princeton (PTS). I graduated in Mathematics (1992) and Religious Studies (1995) from the VU Amsterdam. My Ph.D thesis – in the fields of Philosophy of Science and Philosophy of Religion – is about Narratives, Rationality and Religion (VU, 2005, cum laude).

My research interests include philosophical questions regarding medicine, human evolution, education, narratives, film, anthropology, history, and religion. Regarding education I presented several papers at international conferences and published articles in Dutch books and international journals together with Rob Boschhuizen and Joyce Aalberts.

Apart from working at the university, I enjoy watching movies, reading literature, cycling along Dutch dikes, playing indoor soccer and spending time with my family and friends. I live in Amsterdam.

Areas of expertise

Science and Education, Film and Philosophy, Narrative Theory, Philosophy of Religion.


My current research is about cultivating intellectual virtues, critical thinking, and personal development through university teaching. Universities not only aim for their students to master an academic discipline. They also want them to develop the art of judgment, with a focus on critical reflection on science, ethical professionalism, and academic citizenship. By extension, academic teaching should provide for moral, spiritual, and existential needs concerning the student’s personality and attitude (as the ideals of Bildung and liberal education have always maintained). The main research question of my current research is a practical one: ‘In what ways can universities, and academic teaching in particular, help students to cultivate intellectual virtues, to develop a capacity for critical thinking, and to reflect on existential questions?’

Publications (Selection)

  • ‘De vormende kracht van literatuur en film. Over vooruitgang in ethiek’, in Anton van Harskamp, Gerben Meynen en Bettine Sierksema (red.), Worden wij betere mensen. Essays over morele vooruitgang, Zoetermeer: Klement, 2015, 189-210.
  • ‘“Show, Don’t Tell”. The (Ir)rationality of Religious Stories’, in: R. Ruard Ganzevoort, Maaike de Haardt & Michael Scherer-Rath (eds.), Religious Stories We Live By. Narrative Approaches in Theology and Religious Studies, Leiden [etc.]: Brill, 2014, 19-32.
  • Joyce Aalberts, Edwin Koster & Robert Boschhuizen (2012): From prejudice to reasonable judgement: integrating (moral) value discussions in university courses, Journal of Moral Education, 41:4, 437-455.
  • Edwin Koster (red.), Wat is wetenschap? Een filosofische inleiding voor levenswetenschappers en medici, Amsterdam: VU University Press, (eerste druk 2010, 263 pp; tweede herziene druk 2011, 293 pp; derde herziene en sterk uitgebreide druk 2014, 366 pp.).
  • ‘Understanding in Historical Science: Intelligibility and Judgment’, in: Henk de Regt, Sabina Leonelli, and Kai Eigner (eds.), Scientific Understanding. Philosophical Perspectives, Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009, 314-333.


Email e.koster@vu.nl

Additional Information

Personal website