01. Introduction to the Extreme Beliefs Project by Rik Peels

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01. Introduction to the Extreme Beliefs Project by Rik Peels

Date Published: 29 June 2023

Introduction to the Extreme Beliefs project and a welcome to the workshop on Extreme Beliefs and Responsibility by Rik Peels. The workshop was held at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam on 29 and 30 June 2023.

Workshop theme:
This workshop explores the relation 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. For instance, should we target the individual, the community, or none, i.e., are structural factors to blame? 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? 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?

It is the third in a series of interdisciplinary workshops of the extreme beliefs project, in which we study extreme belief and behavior as found in fanaticism, fundamentalism, extremism, conspiracy theorizing, and terrorism. Key to the project is the idea that we ought to take extreme believers and actors seriously, meaning that (i) those actors are to be understood as relatively normal, healthy, reason-responsive human beings, yet with problematic ideas and possibly harmful behavior, and that (ii) their reasons, beliefs, narratives, and religiosity are to be understood as crucial to understanding and explaining these phenomena. The project brings philosophical tools, concepts, arguments, and other resources to a so far largely empirical debate. Two previous workshops were devoted to conceptually mapping the terrain, and explanations of extreme belief behavior. Two future workshops will be devoted to extreme beliefs and subjectivity and resilience towards extreme beliefs.

The workshop was entirely plenary and consisted of four keynote lectures, six lectures and six lightning talks. To access the playlist of all recordings, please follow this link.

Naomi Kloosterboer, Nora Kinderman, Chris Ranalli, Rik Peels and Anna Haase. The extreme beliefs project is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program (Grant Agreement No. 851613).