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Davidson, Donald (1917–2003)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-U057-2
Version: v2,  Published online: 2017
Retrieved May 18, 2024, from

Article Summary

Donald Davidson is a central figure in twentieth-century American philosophy. Of the five volumes that make up Davidson’s collected essays, the best known are the first two, Essays on Actions and Events (2001a [1980]) and Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation (2001b [1984]), which draw together his work from the 1960s and 1970s, and include many seminal contributions to the philosophy of action, mind, and language. Davidson’s later writings, from the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, are less well-known in their entirety, but also include many significant and influential essays particularly on questions of truth and knowledge, as well as on content and the mind. Of these three later volumes, the most important is undoubtedly Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective (2001c), in which Davidson’s commitment to a holistic or ‘relational’ view of the mind – a view that also sees the mind as necessarily implicated with and implicating other minds and the world – appears in its most explicit form. Problems of Rationality (2004) and Truth, Language and History (2005a) were published posthumously, along with Truth and Predication (2005b), the latter being Davidson’s only published monograph. Influential on an entire generation of philosophers, Davidson opened up new approaches to the study of intention, action, causal explanation, rationality and irrationality, the nature of truth and knowledge, first person authority, indexicals, modality, reference, quotation, metaphor, indeterminacy, convention, realism and the publicity of language. Although connecting with core issues in analytic philosophy, Davidson’s work has also been seen as having close affinities with important aspects of hermeneutic, deconstructionist, and pragmatist thinking.

Citing this article:
Lepore, Ernie and Jeff Malpas. Davidson, Donald (1917–2003), 2017, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-U057-2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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