Deliberation and Automaticity in Habitual Acts

Ethics in Progress 9 (1):25-43 (2018)

Christos Douskos
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Most philosophers and psychologists assume that habitual acts do not ensue from deliberation, but are direct responses to the circumstances: habit essentially involves a variety of automaticity. My objective in this paper is to show that this view is unduly restrictive. A habit can explain an act in various ways. Pointing to the operation of automaticity is only one of them. I draw attention to the fact that acquired automaticity is one outgrowth of habituation that is relevant to explanation, but not the only one. Habituation shapes our emotional and motivational make up in ways that affect deliberation itself. Hence mentioning a habit might be indispensable in explaining an act which nevertheless ensues from deliberation. The view that habitual acts are direct responses to the circumstances implies an impoverished conception of habit, which fails to do justice to its rich explanatory potential in theoretical and pre-theoretical contexts, as well as to its role in the history of philosophy.
Keywords habit  deliberation  automaticity  action explanation
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 65,740
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

On Automaticity as a Constituent of Virtue.Julia Peters - 2015 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (1):165-175.
Habitual Virtuous Actions and Automaticity.Nancy E. Snow - 2006 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 9 (5):545-561.
Habit and Intention.Christos Douskos - 2017 - Philosophia 45 (3):1129-1148.
Mental Action and the Threat of Automaticity.Wayne Wu - 2013 - In Andy Clark, Julian Kiverstein & Tillman Vierkant (eds.), Decomposing the Will. Oxford University Press. pp. 244-61.
Automaticity in Virtuous Action.Clea F. Rees & Jonathan Webber - 2014 - In Nancy E. Snow & Franco V. Trivigno (eds.), The Philosophy and Psychology of Character and Happiness. Routledge. pp. 75-90.
Habitual Agency.David Owens - 2017 - Philosophical Explorations 20 (sup2):93-108.
Pollard on Habits of Action.Christos Douskos - 2017 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 25 (4):504-524.
Good Moral Judgment and Decision‐Making Without Deliberation.Asia Ferrin - 2017 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 55 (1):68-95.
Automaticity in Situ and in Te Lab: The Nature of Habit in Daily Life.David T. Neal & Wendy Wood - 2009 - In Ezequiel Morsella, John A. Bargh & Peter M. Gollwitzer (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Human Action. Oxford University Press. pp. 442--457.


Added to PP index

Total views
7 ( #1,049,562 of 2,462,895 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #449,363 of 2,462,895 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes