Skip to main content

Davidson, Donald Herbert

Donald Herbert Davidson, 1917–2003, American philosopher, b. Springfield, Mass., grad. Harvard (B.A., 1939; Ph.D., 1949). A student of W. V. Quine, Davidson emerged as one of the major figures in post–World War II analytic philosophy. His early work in the theory of decision-making was followed by that in which he argued that reasons can be the causes of human actions. Davidson subsequently developed a philosophy of language, a central tenet of which is that knowing the meaning of a sentence is a matter of knowing the conditions under which it is true. Davidson's views on language and mind led him to reject both scepticism and conceptual relativism, i.e., the idea that human beings can possess radically divergent conceptual schemes such that some cannot, in principle, be translated into others. Davidson taught at a number of universities, including Stanford, Princeton, Chicago, and Berkeley. His works include Essays on Actions and Events (1980), Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation (1984), and Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective (2001).

See studies by E. Lepore, ed. (1986); S. Evnine (1991); G. Preyer et al., ed., (1994).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Davidson, Donald Herbert." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . 14 Dec. 2018 <>.

"Davidson, Donald Herbert." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . (December 14, 2018).

"Davidson, Donald Herbert." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved December 14, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.