Davidson, Donald (Herbert) 1917-2003

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DAVIDSON, Donald (Herbert) 1917-2003


See index for CA sketch: Born March 6, 1917, in Springfield, MA; died of a heart attack September 30, 2003, in Berkeley, CA. Philosopher, educator, and author. One of the most important American philosophers of the twentieth century, Davidson was responsible for influencing philosophical thought in areas ranging from language and semantics to the concepts of meaning and belief. Educated at Harvard University, he earned his master's degree there in 1941 before enlisting in the U.S. Navy during World War II; while in the navy, he trained pilots on how to recognize enemy aircraft. He then returned to Harvard to complete his Ph.D. in philosophy in 1949, even though he had begun his studies in English and comparative literature—he had even spent a few years in the late 1930s writing radio scripts for Edward G. Robinson. Davidson eventually settled on philosophy as his main interest, and he began his academic career at Queens College of the City University of New York. During the late 1950s through the early 1970s, he taught at Stanford University, and it was here that he wrote his influential paper "Actions, Reasons, and Causes," which helped changed people's notions about how actions are taken as a result of internal beliefs rather than as a reaction to external events. Establishing himself as an important voice in areas such as ethics and semantics, Davidson moved on to teach at Princeton University, Rockefeller University, and the University of Chicago in the 1970s, and the University of California at Berkeley from 1981 until his death; he had been named Willis S. and Marion Slusser professor of philosophy in 1986. During his career, he contributed to dozens of books, as well as authoring or editing several of his own, including Essays on Actions and Events (1980; second edition, 2001), Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation (1984; second edition, 2001), Reflecting Davidson: Donald Davidson Responding to an International Forum of Philosophers (1993), and Subjective, Inter-subjective, Objective (2001).



Los Angeles Times, September 8, 2003, p. B9.

New York Times, September 4, 2003, p. C14.

San Francisco Chronicle, September 5, 2003, p. A23.

Times (London, England), September 6, 2003.


UC Berkeley News,http://www.berkeley.edu/news/ (September 4, 2003).

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Davidson, Donald (Herbert) 1917-2003

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