Workshop: Reassessing the Role of Belief in Decision-making and Action

Date: 10th June 2024

Venue: University of Liverpool

We are pleased to announce a one-day workshop to be held at the University of Liverpool on 10th June 2024, organised by Laura Gow, Robin McKenna and Thomas Raleigh, funded by the School of the Arts at the University of Liverpool.

The purpose of the workshop is to explore the role of belief in our ordinary decision-making processes. This is part of a broader project which aims to reveal the influence of cognitive phenomenology on our everyday reasoning, and the impact this has on our susceptibility to misinformation online.

The workshop will bring together experts from philosophy, psychology and computer science.


Chiara Brozzo (Philosophy, Birmingham)

Ryan McKay (Psychology, Royal Holloway)

Paul Smart (Computer Science, Southampton)

Ema Sullivan-Bissett (Philosophy, Birmingham)


Provisional Programme

09:00   Welcome

09:15    Laura Gow, Robin McKenna & Thomas Raleigh - Introduction to the project

10:00    Chiara Brozzo – Idiosyncratic Core Beliefs: Developing and Defending One’s Sense of Self

11:15    Tea & Coffee

11:45    Ryan McKay – Sleights of Mind: Using Magic to Illuminate our Beliefs and Decisions

13:00    Lunch

14:00    Paul Smart – Minds in the Matrix: Seeming and Believing

15:15    Tea & Coffee

15:45    Ema Sullivan-Bissett – How Belief Functions

17:00    Close


Registration is free but places are limited. Please email Laura Gow by 31st May to register for this in-person event:

Here is some more information about the project that this event is part of.

It has always been assumed that our beliefs have an essential role to play in everyday decision-making: our decision to get a coffee seems to require the belief that there’s a café nearby, the belief that it’s open, and so on. Our project challenges this overly intellectual picture of decision making and action. Our working hypothesis is that our actions and decisions are driven by what seems true rather than what we believe. Initial evidence for this comes from situations where an agent possesses beliefs which would be highly relevant to their decision-making processes, yet fails to act in accordance with these beliefs. For example, many socially-minded people who care about the environment fail to make any changes to their lives in response to climate change, yet they genuinely believe that climate change is occurring. Behaviour that conflicts with an agent’s beliefs, desires and character traits demands an explanation, and on our view, the explanation is that while most people believe in human-caused climate change, their belief just doesn’t seem true to them. When our beliefs fail to seem true, they are unable to play a role in our everyday decision making.