Resilient Beliefs: Religion and Beyond (REBE)

Beliefs can be resistant to change and correction and in this sense: resilient. Having resilient beliefs would seem to be an enabling condition for our cognitive functioning. Yet some resilient beliefs keep dubious company, as can be witnessed with various forms of religious fundamentalism. The REBE project aims to investigate whether and in what circumstances belief resilience is a sign of irrationality, and in what circumstances it is a healthy component of our epistemic lives. Bringing together expertise in epistemology, philosophy of religion, religious studies, and systematic theology, the project’s main focus is on belief resilience in the religious domain.

Debates on religious belief resilience in philosophy, theology and religious studies can be understood in terms of the following guiding questions, which will structure the REBE project:

1. the normative question of whether there is such a thing as an epistemically good vs. bad way of being resiliently committed to a religious worldview;

2. the difference question concerning the “nature” of religious belief, i.e., the question of whether it is possible to distinguish the religious from the non-religious domain in a principled and convincing way;

3. the social-impact question, which regards the role of resilient doxastic attitudes in social constellations of religious diversity and disagreement.

The project starts from the observation that philosophical, theological and religious studies debates on these questions are usually disconnected from each other. Conjoining complementary expertise, and relying upon empirically informed theorizing that incorporates the interpretation of evidence from the psychology of belief polarization and from sociological analyses of religious diversity, the REBE project aims to promote the understanding of religious belief resilience by developing an interdisciplinary account that relates the relevant debates to each other.

The project will advance the state of the art by: (a) articulating a set of epistemological principles that can serve as a tool for the epistemic evaluation of resilient worldview commitments; (b) developing a theologically informed account of religious belief that can serve as a convincing explanatory framework; (c) elaborating a novel philosophical account of religious disagreement.


Funding agency: Euregio Science Fund (4th Call, IPN 175).

Partners: FBK-ISR (lead partner), University of Innsbruck, Philosophical-Theological Academy Brixen

Start date: May 2022

Researchers involved in the project (in alphabetical order): C. Amor (Philosophisch-Theologische Hochschule, Brixen), P. Costa (Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Trento, IPN coordinator), Gloria Dell’Eva (Philosophisch-Theologische Hochschule, Brixen), K. Dormandy (Universität Innsbruck), Scott Hill (University of Innsbruck), E. Lancellotta (Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Trento), M. Lintner (Philosophisch-Theologische Hochschule, Brixen), W. Löffler (Universität Innsbruck) and B. Rähme (Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Trento).


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