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Philosophy Research Archives

Volume 3, 1977

Robert F. Litke
Pages 274-288

What Influences Action is not Necessary Conscious

It is ccranonly supposed that what we know and believe influences what we do, that knowledge and beliefs provide us with considerations (rules, reasons, action-plans, etc.) which guide our action. Sane recent discussions of human behavior makes this appear dubious. In particular, by holding that influential considerations must be conscious occurrent events they make it appear that there is substantially less influence than we usually take for granted. In turn, this suggests that in large measure human action is unknowing, that agents often do not know what they are doing. In my view accounts leading to such conclusions are themselves dubious. I show that these accounts give rise to puzzles and paradoxes if they are taken as applying to routine sorts of everyday behavior (as their authors intend). I hope, in this way, to raise substantial doubt about the viability of these counter-intuitive accounts of human action.