Universität Wien FIND

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, changes to courses and exams may be necessary at short notice. Inform yourself about the current status on u:find and check your e-mails regularly.

Please read the information on https://studieren.univie.ac.at/en/info.

180172 SE Habits (2019W)

5.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 18 - Philosophie
Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 30 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

This course is taught in English.

Tuesday 08.10. 13:15 - 14:45 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 15.10. 13:15 - 14:45 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 22.10. 13:15 - 14:45 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 05.11. 13:15 - 14:45 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 12.11. 13:15 - 14:45 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 19.11. 13:15 - 14:45 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 26.11. 13:15 - 14:45 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 03.12. 13:15 - 14:45 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 10.12. 13:15 - 14:45 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 17.12. 13:15 - 14:45 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 07.01. 13:15 - 14:45 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 14.01. 13:15 - 14:45 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 21.01. 13:15 - 14:45 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 28.01. 13:15 - 14:45 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock


Aims, contents and method of the course

Habitual actions have a history of practice and repetition that frees us from attending to what we are doing, from deliberating about what to do, and even from forming an intention before acting. Nevertheless, many habitual actions like getting dressed in the morning, or biking back home from work, are cases of intentional action. What accounts for the intentionality of habitual actions if they can be automatically initiated, performed, and controlled?

There are two key conceptualizations of habits.
The one conceptualization of habits comes from the Aristotelian tradition. For Aristotle, a habit is an acquired disposition to perform certain types of action. This disposition can also involve enhanced cognitive control of actions.
The notion of habit used in neuroscience is an inheritance from a particular theoretical origin, whose main source is William James. In this tradition, habits have been characterized as rigid, automatic, unconscious, and opposed to goal-directed actions.

These twos opposing theoretical starting points will be discussed before we will continue with the recent debate regarding habits.

Questions that we will focus on are: To what extent are habitual actions automatic? Can habitual actions be performed without attention? If habitual actions are non-deliberative, are they responsive to reasons? If so, how? How can habitual actions be controlled by the agent, if not via deliberation or explicit intention formation? If habits are intelligent, what accounts for their intelligence? What accounts for our responsibility over our habitual actions, if they are not deliberative or intended?

The seminar is taught in English, and will feature small group discussions. In preparation of each seminar, students will read the assigned core text and provide questions to preparatory reading on Moodle.

Assessment and permitted materials

- Active participation/preparation: reading the text and preparing two questions for discussion (20%)
- 5-minute presentation.Presentations can either (1) focus on the core reading of the given week, or (2) be an outline of the essay you want to write at (these presentations will take place during the last two meetings) (20%).
- 2300-2800 word essay (60%)

All have to be written in English.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

A positive evaluation requires students to achieve a pass grade (4) in all three assessment pieces, and to actively attend the seminar. Two unauthorized absences will be excused. Active seminar attendance includes reading the assigned core texts and submitting questions 12 out of 15 meetings, 24 hours before each seminar.

Examination topics

Students can write their essays on any topics linked to the seminar themes. Students are encouraged to develop their own research topics, and to consult with the lecturer on their writing plans.

Reading list

Literature will be made known in the first seminar meeting.

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Mo 07.09.2020 15:21