Extreme Belief and Responsibility

June 29, 2023 - June 30, 2023
VU University Amsterdam

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

View the Call For Papers


  • European Reseach Council (ERC)


Nottingham University
Louisiana State University
University of Vienna


VU University Amsterdam
VU University Amsterdam
VU University Amsterdam
VU University Amsterdam

Topic areas

Talks at this conference

Add a talk


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.

Possible topics

- Brainwashing, indoctrination, gaslighting, or other forms of mind manipulation

- The role of epistemic and moral agency, or virtues and vices in forming or maintaining extreme beliefs

- Group dynamics, for instance, in cultsor online extremist groups

- Relations between legal, moral, and epistemic responsibility with respect to extreme beliefs

- Historical or cultural differences in responsibility assessments

- Excuses for extreme beliefs

- Influence of cognitive and affective capacities

- Influence of intellectual self-trust, self-esteem, and self-respect

- The role of (group)ignorance in forming and maintaining extreme beliefs

- 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?

- Relation to specific instances of extreme beliefs, such as conspiracy theorizing or fundamentalism


The two-day workshop will be plenary with sessions consisting of keynote lectures (45 min), responses (15 min), and Q&A (30 min). We also plan to have an interdisciplinary session at the end of the second day. Several keynotes will be invited, others will be selected based on submitted abstracts. The focus will be on the face-to-face meetings, but there will be room for online presentations if needed.

Book series on extreme beliefs

Together with an international and interdisciplinary group of experts on kinds of extreme beliefs, we will publish an Oxford University Press book series on extreme beliefs. The aim of the series is to crystallize an approach to extreme beliefs in which the perspective of the extreme believer is crucial in understanding, explaining, and mitigating extreme beliefs. One volume, edited by Naomi Kloosterboer, Chris Ranalli, and Rik Peels, will be dedicated to the theme of the responsibility workshop. Presentations at the workshop may be considered for inclusion in the volume. For more on the volume and the book series, see:



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

Supporting material

Add supporting material (slides, programs, etc.)




Who is attending?

1 person is attending:

VU University Amsterdam (PhD)

1 person may be attending:

VU University Amsterdam

See all

Will you attend this event?

Let us know so we can notify you of any change of plan.

Custom tags:

#Extreme beliefs, #ERC Extreme Beliefs Project