We are familiar with the phenomenon of “resilient” opinions or beliefs, i.e., beliefs that people would not give up under almost any circumstances, and would vehemently defend against objections and counterarguments. Some of these resilient beliefs appear completely rational. The beliefs that one cannot breathe under water or fly by flapping one’s arms are even life-preserving. And most people would never give up many aspects of our contemporary scientific worldview. However, the Corona crisis has shed light on questionable forms of belief resilience. Some people defend unusual beliefs even against clear empirical evidence, calling into question science as a whole. But what distinguishes “rational” from “irrational,” “good” from “bad” forms of belief resilience? And what about strong religious or political opinions – what domain do they fall under, and how can we characterize their resilience more precisely? For example, do such beliefs have much in common with unproblematic belief resilience, or should they be described differently, perhaps as delusions or, on the contrary, as signposts for powerful worldviews?
These and other questions are pursued in a trilateral EUREGIO Science Fund research project, which began in May 2022. It is overseen by Christoph Amor (Bressanone/Brixen), Paolo Costa (Trento), Katherine Dormandy (Innsbruck), Martin Lintner (Bressanone/Brixen), Winfried Löffler (Innsbruck), Boris Rähme (Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Trento) and carried out by three post-doctoral researchers, Scott Hill (Innsbruck), Gloria Dell'Eva (Bressanone/Brixen), Eugenia Lancellotta (Trento), who have won highly competitive calls.
The three research groups have complementary research focuses. The Innsbruck group dwells on epistemological questions concerning resilient aspects of worldviews and their epistemic justification. The Trento group focuses on the empirical and religious aspects of belief resilience and disagreement. The focal point in Bressanone/Brixen is the nature of religious beliefs and the pull of Christianity outside its borders. In addition to workshops and conferences, the expected outcomes of the project will include scholarly articles in respected journals and the publication of the workshop and conference presentations.