Several researchers within the Extreme Beliefs Project, with Rik Peels as the main editor, will contribute to a new book series, titled Extreme Belief and Behaviour, which first volume will appear in 2024. This series aims to study extreme action and particularly extreme belief as found in fanaticism, fundamentalism, extremism, conspiracy theorizing, and terrorism. For more information about the contributors, the timeline, and the contents: Extreme Belief and Behavior Series

The series combines five edited volumes with two monographs. These two monographs, by Beatrice de Graaf and Rik Peels, are needed to respectively show in detail how the new approach works in practice and to develop a theoretical unified articulation of the new paradigm. Of course, the current set-up of the series is only provisional.

1. Extreme Beliefs: Mapping the Terrain, eds. Rik Peels and John Horgan (drafts of many
chapters in this volume have been presented at an international workshop in Amsterdam in
December 2021)
This first volume covers various conceptual issues surrounding extreme beliefs and extreme
behavior. The focus here is theoretical, but the work is firmly empirically embedded. It
explores four crucial conceptual questions. How should each of the extreme phenomena be
defined in a fruitful manner and what are the desiderata in seeking definitions of each of
them? How should the project of defining these phenomena be undertaken: in terms of
necessary and sufficient conditions, or family resemblances, or INUS conditions, and based
on data sets, or intuitions about particular cases, common understandings in the public debate,
or yet something else? What is the role of normativity in defining these extreme phenomena,
that is, the proper place of normative or even pejorative concepts and the normative
framework of the researcher? Finally, how do the phenomena of extremism, fanaticism,
fundamentalism, terrorism, and conspiricism relate to one another and to things such as
apocalypticism, charisma, and state terror?

2. Radical Redemption: What Terrorists Believe, by Beatrice de Graaf (a complete version of
this manuscript is almost ready)
In this volume, historian and terrorism researcher Beatrice de Graaf looks beyond acts of
terrorism and their consequences and explores how convicted terrorists narrate their extreme
beliefs. To discover what terrorists believe and how those beliefs bring them to commit their
deeds, she recorded the life stories of almost thirty convicted terrorists, that were in prison
over the past ten years. Most were Dutch detainees convicted for jihadist terrorism, but she
also includes accounts by non-Western terrorists (Indonesian, Syrian and Pakistani jihadists
and Boko Haram members in Cameroon) and Western right-wing extremists – all in jail over
the past decade. First of all, she unpacks how their stories are all unique, but how there is one
common denominator: a desire for significance, sense and meaning in lives that are often
lacking in prospects and fulfilment. Yet, rather than focusing on orthodoxy (right belief), it is
their lived orthodox praxis (right practice) that they mostly speak about—which, it is argued,
does not mean that their beliefs are irrelevant. The study then continues and combines a
historical perspective with qualitative radicalization studies and concepts from the sociology
of religion and social psychology (‘quest for significance’, ‘the redemptive self’), to identify
and analyze how convicted terrorists developed 1) narratives of radical personal redemption,
where 2) ideology and praxis (the whole of actions and words) were combined, and were
3) validated by a perceived group or support base – or, instead, became contaminated in the
course of time.

3. Explaining Extreme Belief and Extreme Behavior, eds. Rik Peels and Lorne Dawson
This volume takes a step back from the many specific explanations of extreme belief and
extreme behavior that we find in the literature, and explores the very project of explaining
these phenomena. The first part of the volume concerns various theoretical and contextual
issues. What is it about extreme beliefs that challenges our capacity to explain them? What
are the pitfalls of current approaches and why are explanations so urgently needed (e.g.,
rational choice theory on the one hand, psychopathological approaches on the other, or the
role of normative assumptions)? The second part then moves on to explore methodological
issues. What does providing an explanation entail? What are the desiderata for viable
explanations – including what is the relationship between understanding and explaining,
qualitative and quantitative data, first-person and third-person accounts, attitudes and
behaviors or beliefs and actions? The third part explores related empirical issues and
challenges. How should we conceive and integrate insights into such related phenomena as
the turn to extremism in a particular context (e.g., a country or historical circumstance, such
as a conflict), the rise of extremist movements, and the turn to extremism by individuals? In
other words, how do we interrelate developments and studies focused on the macro, meso,
and micro levels? What conceptual, theoretical, and methodological resources are available or
can be created? What, for example, is the value of talking about push and pull factors?

4. Responsibility for Extreme Beliefs, eds. Naomi Kloosterboer, Chris Ranalli, Rik Peels
This volume explores various issues in the relations between extreme beliefs and extreme
behavior on the one hand and responsibility on the other. The first part concerns the issue of
who is responsible. Should we target the individual, the community, or none, i.e., are
structural factors to blame? To what extent does one manifest one’s epistemic or moral
agency in forming or keeping extreme beliefs? What role do group dynamics play? Which
environments foster extreme beliefs and behavior? The second part concerns what kind of
responsibility is at issue. For instance, how do legal, moral, and epistemic responsibility relate
to each other with respect to extreme beliefs? To what extent is responsibility for extreme
belief and extreme behavior culture- and time-relative? The third part concerns when
responsibility attributions are appropriate and when not. What are excusing or exculpating
conditions of individual or group responsibility for extreme belief? How does epistemic
agency depend on cognitive and affective capacities, (self)knowledge and (self)ignorance, as
well as on intellectual self-trust, self-esteem, and self-respect? How should we understand
indoctrination and how much room does it leave for responsibility? Can peer pressure or
group ignorance excuse? Do circumstantial factors, such as being in an epistemic bubble or
echo chamber, or living in a society dealing with fake news, propaganda, censorship,
polarization, suppression, war, etcetera, excuse? And which conditions are particularly salient
for, say, conspiracy theorizing or fundamentalism?

5. Extremism and Subjectivity, ed. Rik Peels and Quassim Cassam
This volume zooms in on the subjectivity of individual extremists, conspiracy thinkers,
fundamentalists, terrorists, and fanatics. ‘Subjectivity’ is a widely used but poorly understood
notion in the literature, so this volume aims to get a firmer grip on it. Among other things, it
answers such questions as: what constitutes a person’s subjectivity? Why is it theoretically
and practically important to engage with the subjectivity of extremists? What is the role of
their affections, passions, and beliefs in causing and sustaining their extremism? How should
we construe religiosity and what work can it do as an explanatory factor for extreme beliefs
and extreme behavior? What role do cognitive and moral virtues and vices play in a person’s
subjectivity and how do these notions help us to understand, say, fundamentalism and
terrorism? Finally, which senses of ‘rationality’, ‘justification’, ‘reasonableness’ and similar
terms can be applied to individual extremists and groups of extremists and conspiracy
thinkers and what does that mean for studying their subjectivity?

6. Resilience to Extreme Beliefs and to Extreme Behavior, eds. Elanie Rodermond, Samuël
Kruizinga, Rik Peels
An important idea in the literature on prevention is that we should aim to make communities
and individuals resilient towards extreme beliefs and extreme behaviour. But what exactly
does that amount to, how should we conceptualise resilience? What role do cultural, political,
and economic factors play in resilience and how do they relate to beliefs and character traits
of individuals that constitute the community? Is resilience compatible with the radicalisation
of some members in a community? How do moral, political, and religious resilience relate to
one another? Can it be operationalised and measured? How does resilience relate to deradicalization?
Are there specific best practices for building resilience towards, say, rightwing
extremism and Salafi Jihadism that can be implemented elsewhere? What is the role of
education in creating resilience?

7. Synthesizing First- and Third-Person Perspectives on Extreme Belief and Extreme
Behavior, by Rik Peels
This monograph draws various threats of the series together and focuses on synthesizing firsthand
third-person explanations of extreme belief and extreme behavior as found in extremism,
fanaticism, fundamentalism, conspiricism, and terrorism. It uses various notions in the
existing empirical literature, like that of orthopraxis and religiosity, but also philosophical
concepts that have not yet been employed in the empirical literature on extreme belief and
extreme behavior, such as Lisa Bortolotti’s concept of epistemic innocence, to show how
various third-person approaches, in terms of social, political, cultural, and economic factors,
can be combined with first-person approaches, in terms of the subject’s beliefs, reasons, and
narratives. In doing so, this volume will shed light on how understanding and explaining
extremism, fundamentalism, and the like relate to one another. Finally, it reflects on various
normative issues that come with first-person explanations, third-person explanations,
understanding, and explaining, such as the positionality of the researcher, and various
epistemic and moral challenges regarding the empathy required for understanding.