CFP: Extreme Belief and Responsibility

Submission deadline: January 15, 2023

Conference date(s):
June 29, 2023 - June 30, 2023

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

VU University Amsterdam
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Topic areas


Extreme Belief and Responsibility

Interdisciplinary workshop at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

29-30 June 2023

Abstract Submission

We welcome 500-word abstracts submitted to [email protected] by 15 January 2023 at the latest.

Notifications of acceptance will be given in February. Those who submitted an abstract might also be invited as respondents. We encourage submissions from researchers from the global south and underrepresented groups in academia.

Keynote Speakers

Ian James Kidd (Philosophy, University of Nottingham)

Janja Lalich (Sociology)

Ken Levi (Law, Lousiana State University)

Paulina Sliwa (Philosophy, University of Vienna)

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 belief
  • Group dynamics, for instance, in cults or 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 belief
  • 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

Book series on extreme beliefs

Together with an international and interdisciplinary group of experts on kinds of extreme beliefs, we will publish an OUP 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.


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).

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