Davidson, Donald (1917–2003)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-U057-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 15, 2019, from

2. Events

Davidson’s chief claim about events is that they are concrete particulars – that is, unrepeatable entities with location in space and time. He regards the mind–body problem as the problem of the relation between mental and physical events. He treats causation as a relation between events and he takes action to be a species of event, so that events comprise the very subject matter of action theory. He argues for the existence of events and for specific claims as to their nature.

In ‘Causal Relations’ (1980) Davidson argues that the most plausible interpretation of singular causal statements like ‘The short circuit caused the fire’ treats them as two-place predicate statements with their singular terms (in this case, ‘the short circuit’ and ‘the fire’) designating events. In ‘The Individuation of Events’ (1980), Davidson argues that an adequate theory of action must recognize that we can describe the same action differently. This seems crucial in making sense of perfectly natural claims like ‘Jones managed to apologize in saying “I apologize”’, wherein apparently one event is described both as an apology and as an utterance (see Events).

Citing this article:
Lepore, Ernie. Events. Davidson, Donald (1917–2003), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-U057-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2019 Routledge.