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Donald Herbert Davidson (March 6, 1917 – August 30, 2003) was an
American philosopher American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States ** Americans, citizens and nationals of the United States of America ** American ancestry, people who self-i ...
. He served as Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the
University of California, Berkeley The University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley, Berkeley, Cal, or California) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization ...

University of California, Berkeley
, from 1981 to 2003 after having also held teaching appointments at
Stanford University Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Du ...

Stanford University
,
Rockefeller University The Rockefeller University is a private graduate university in New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Lite ...

Rockefeller University
,
Princeton University Princeton University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly tw ...

Princeton University
, and the
University of Chicago The University of Chicago (UChicago) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an abse ...
. Davidson was known for his charismatic personality and the depth and difficulty of his thought. His work exerted considerable influence in many areas of philosophy from the 1960s onward, particularly in
philosophy of mind Philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, a ...

philosophy of mind
,
philosophy of language In analytic philosophy Analytic philosophy is a branch and tradition of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, ...
, and action theory. While Davidson was an
analytic philosopher Analytic philosophy is a branch and tradition of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy o ...
, and most of his influence lies in that tradition, his work has attracted attention in
continental philosophy Continental philosophy is a set of 19th- and 20th-century philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical ...
as well, particularly in literary theory and related areas.


Personal life

Davidson was married three times. His first wife was the artist Virginia Davidson, with whom he had his only child, a daughter, Elizabeth (Davidson) Boyer. Following his divorce from Virginia Davidson, he married for the second time to Nancy Hirschberg, Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and later at Chicago Circle. She died in 1979. In 1984, Davidson married for the third and last time, to philosopher Marcia Cavell.


Swampman

Swampman is the subject of a
philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning ...

philosophical
thought experiment A thought experiment is a hypothetical situation in which a hypothesis A hypothesis (plural hypotheses) is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. For a hypothesis to be a scientific hypothesis, the scientific method requires that one can t ...
introduced by Donald Davidson in his 1987 paper "Knowing One's Own Mind". In the experiment, Davidson is struck by lightning in a swamp and disintegrated; simultaneously, an exact copy of Davidson, the Swampman, is made from a nearby tree and proceeds through life exactly as Davidson would have, indistinguishable from Davidson. The experiment is used by Davidson to claim that thought and meaning cannot exist in a vacuum; they are dependent on their interconnections to the world. Therefore, despite being physically identical to himself, Davidson states that the Swampman does not have thoughts nor meaningful language, as it has no causal history to base them on. The experiment runs as follows:


Awards

*
Jean Nicod Prize The Jean Nicod Prize is awarded annually in Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,175,601 residents as of 2018, ...
(1995)


Bibliography

* ''Decision-Making: An Experimental Approach'', co-authored with
Patrick Suppes Patrick Colonel Suppes (; March 17, 1922 – November 17, 2014) was an American philosopher who made significant contributions to philosophy of science, the theory of measurement, the foundations of quantum mechanics, decision theory, psychology a ...
and Sidney Siegel. Stanford:
Stanford University Press Stanford University Press (SUP) is the publishing house Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers to the distribut ...
. 1957. * "Actions, Reasons, and Causes," ''Journal of Philosophy'', 60, 1963. (Reprinted in Davidson, 2001a.) * "Truth and Meaning," ''Synthese'', 17, 1967. (Reprinted in Davidson, 2001b.) * "Mental Events," in ''Experience and Theory'', Foster and Swanson (eds.). London: Duckworth. 1970. (Reprinted in Davidson, 2001a). * "Agency," in ''Agent, Action, and Reason'', Binkley, Bronaugh, and Marras (eds.), Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 1971. (Reprinted in Davidson, 2001a.) * "Radical Interpretation," ''Dialectica'', 27, 1973, 313–328. (Reprinted in Davidson, 2001b.) * ''Semantics of Natural Languages'', Davidson, Donald and Gilbert Harman (eds.), 2nd ed. New York: Springer. 1973. * ''Plato's ‘Philebus’'', New York: Garland Publishing. 1990. * ''Essays on Actions and Events'', 2nd ed. Oxford:
Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press A university press is an academic publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for fre ...

Oxford University Press
. 2001a. * ''Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation'', 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2001b. * ''Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective''. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2001c. * ''Problems of Rationality'', Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004. * ''Truth, Language, and History: Philosophical Essays'', Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2005. * ''Truth and Predication''. Cambridge, Mass.:
Harvard University Press Harvard University Press (HUP) is a publishing house Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers to the distrib ...
. 2005. * ''The Essential Davidson''. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2006.


Filmography

* Rudolf Fara (host), ''In conversation: Donald Davidson'' (19 videocassettes), Philosophy International, Centre for Philosophy of the Natural and Social Sciences, London School of Economics, 1997.


See also

* List of Jean Nicod Prize laureates *
List of American philosophers This is a list of American philosophers; of philosophers who are either from, or spent many productive years of their lives in the United States. {, border="0" style="margin:auto;" class="toccolours" , - ! {{MediaWiki:Toc , - , style="text-alig ...


Notes


References


Further reading

* Dasenbrock, Reed Way (ed.). ''Literary Theory After Davidson''. University Park: Pennsylvania University Press. 1993. * Hahn, Lewis Edwin (ed.). ''The Philosophy of Donald Davidson, Library of Living Philosophers'' XXVII. Chicago: Open Court. 1999. * Kotatko, Petr, Peter Pagin and Gabriel Segal (eds.). ''Interpreting Davidson''. Stanford: CSLI Publications. 2001. * Evnine, Simon. ''Donald Davidson''. Stanford: Stanford University Press. 1991. * Kalugin, Vladimir. "Donald Davidson (1917–2003)," ''
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy The ''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy'' (''IEP'') is a scholarly online encyclopedia An online encyclopedia, also called an Internet encyclopedia, or a digital encyclopedia, is an encyclopedia An encyclopedia (American English), ...
'', 2006.
link
* Lepore, Ernest and Brian McLaughlin (eds.). ''Actions and Events: Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson''. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. 1985. * Lepore, Ernest (ed.). ''Truth and Interpretation: Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson''. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. 1986. * Lepore, Ernest and Kirk Ludwig. "Donald Davidson," ''Midwest Studies in Philosophy'', September 2004, vol. 28, pp. 309–333. * Lepore, Ernest and Kirk Ludwig. ''Donald Davidson: Meaning, Truth, Language and Reality''. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2005. * Lepore, Ernest and Kirk Ludwig. ''Donald Davidson's Truth-Theoretic Semantics''. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2007. * Ludwig, Kirk (ed.). ''Donald Davidson''. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2003. * Ludwig, Kirk. "Donald Davidson: ''Essays on Actions and Events''." In ''Classics of Western Philosophy: The Twentieth Century: Quine and After'', vol. 5., John Shand (ed.), Acumen Press, 2006, pp. 146–165. * Malpas, Jeffrey. ''Donald Davidson and the Mirror of Meaning: Holism, Truth, Interpretation''. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1992. * Mou, Bo (ed.). ''Davidson's Philosophy and Chinese Philosophy: Constructive Engagement''. Leiden & Boston: Brill. 2006. * Preyer, Gerhard, Frank Siebelt, and Alexander Ulfig (eds.). ''Language, Mind and Epistemology: On Donald Davidson's Philosophy''. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. 1994. * Ramberg, Bjorn. ''Donald Davidson's Philosophy of Language: An Introduction''. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. 1989. * Romaneczko, Marta E. ''The Role of Metalanguage in Radical Interpretation''. Journal of Consciousness Studies. 2007. * Stoecker, Ralf (ed.). ''Reflecting Davidson''. Berlin: W. de Gruyter. 1993. * Uzunova, Boryana
The ‘World’ of Donald Davidson: Some Remarks on the Concept
in: Philosophia: E-Journal of Philosophy and Culture – 1/2012. * Vermazen, B., and Hintikka, M. ''Essays on Davidson: Actions and Events''. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1985. * Zeglen, Ursula M. (ed.). ''Donald Davidson: Truth, Meaning and Knowledge''. London: Routledge. 1991.


External links

* *
"Donald Davidson"
– by Jeff Malpas, ''Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy'', 2005.

by Vladimir Kalugin, ''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy'', 2006.
Guide to the Donald Davidson Papers
at
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