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Postdoc Philosophy: The Epistemology of Fundamentalist Group Belief


The postdoc position is embedded both in the Philosophy Department (Faculty of Humanities) and the Faculty of Religion and Theology. It is part of Dr. Rik Peels’ ERC-funded Starting Grant project ‘Extreme Beliefs: The Epistemology and Ethics of Fundamentalism’, which is devoted to a conceptual and normative analysis and assessment of fundamentalist belief. The purpose of the postdoc project is to conceptualize fundamentalist belief on a group level (rather than on the individual level). It will do so by addressing three sub-questions. First, which intellectual virtues and vices do fundamentalist groups display as groups? Thus, what would it mean for a group to be narrow-minded, dogmatist, or gullible? Second, under which conditions is it rational to trust a particular authority within a social group and fundamentalist groups in particular? Third, to what extent fundamentalist belief can still be rational (and what other epistemic features it can have) in the face of substantial peer disagreement? The hypotheses developed by way of conceptual analysis will be applied, tested, and fine-tuned in four cases studies. The project will be carried out in close collaboration with the project’s principal investigator, Rik Peels, and the other PhD’s (especially the PhD who works on the epistemology of individual fundamentalist belief) and post-docs in the project. The position includes ample funding for research and travel. A detailed project description is available here. Candidates are strongly encouraged to read the project description carefully when preparing their applications. The postdoc project will start in January 2021.

Your duties

  • conduct research on the project’s topic, resulting in at least five journal articles (in philosophy journals and various journals in fields that contribute to fundamentalism studies, such as psychology and criminology)
  • participate in teaching and research activities in one or both departments, that is, the Philosophy Department and the Faculty of Religion and Theology
  • co-edit a special issue or book
  • co-organize lectures and a workshop


The candidate should hold a PhD degree and have demonstrable affinity with contemporary social epistemology. We will consider outstanding candidates with degrees in other relevant fields than philosophy and theology/religious studies, such as social psychology, criminology, psychiatry, cognitive science, and law. The candidate will have a strong academic record and affinity with contemporary epistemology, broadly understood, as well as interest in fundamentalism. Familiarity with debates about fundamentalism would be a plus. Excellent spoken and written English as well as strong academic writing skills are essential.


Fixed-term contract: 1 year.

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. On full-time basis the remuneration amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of €2,790 (scale 10)
and a maximum €4,402 (scale 10), depending on your education and experience. The job profile ‘onderzoeker-4’ is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE. The initial employment contract will affect a period of 1 year, with the possibility of extension.

Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package


The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavour – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.