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Essays on Actions and Events (Philosophical Essays of Donald Davidson) Hardcover – November 22, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0199246267 ISBN-10: 0199246262 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Series: Philosophical Essays of Donald Davidson
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2 edition (November 22, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199246262
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199246267
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,809,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"A classic in its field."--P. F. Strawson

About the Author

Donald Davidson is Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. Donald Davidson is Willis S. and Marion Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. He was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, and educated at Harvard, completing his Ph.D. in classical philosophy after serving in the US Navy from 1942 to 1945. Before coming to Berkeley in 1981, he was Professor at Stanford, Princeton, Rockefeller, and the University of Chicago. He is a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy.

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Customer Reviews

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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Amol Sarva on August 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
As a guy who wrote no books, Davidson's two published collections have done the work of securing his legacy. In this volume, among other things, we have the papers that argue for two of his most important theses in philosophy of mind. (1) The behaviorists argued that every state of mind was at best a disposition to some behavior, as in Gilbert Ryle's _The Concept of Mind_. Davidson, in "Actions, Reasons, Causes" and a couple of other papers in this volume, laid bare one of the essential arguments that put down this view for good. We often have many reasons or other mental states upon which we do not act. But such beliefs or desires are still reasons, and still mental states--just ones that behaviorism can't account for. (2) Davidson argues for the oft-maligned but influential thesis of anomalous monism, as a strategy to resolve the worries arising from "materialism of the mental". If the mind is mere matter, then physics will eventually figure out its laws! Then where will our free will be? Davidson argues, relying on some tendentious claims about what a law is, that there can never be laws of the mental *even though* there are laws of the physical stuff. The mental is anomalous and not lawlike.
Anyway, this volume is a very important piece of recent philosophy of mind. It also sets into motion an important tradition of thinking about moral psychology, action theory and ethics from the perspective of reasons for agential action.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Keith Douglas on July 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the standard collection of Davidson's early writings on events, action, and some of his work on the philosophy of mind and psychology. Some of the papers are very good ("The Logical Form of Action Sentences" is rightly regarded as a classic) whereas some other papers (e.g. "Mental Events") are obscure and confused. The latter suffers from (apparently) a lack of contact with how psychology (and in particular, cognitive neuroscience) is practiced. I nevertheless recommend the volume as a good collection of papers by one of the 20th century's more influential philosophers. I should note in passing that Davidson's current views on the individuation of events are not discussed in any of the papers. For that, see _Actions and Events: Perspectives on the Philosphy of Donald Davidson_ and his article "Reply to Quine on Events" therein.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Published in 2001, “Essays on Actions and Events” is the second installment in a five-volume collection of Donald Davidson papers. An edition of this particular text collection was previously released in 1980 – the current version has two small pieces not included in the original edition. Davidson, an influential late 20th century American philosopher, has made notable contributions in the philosophy of language, mind and action. The papers in this particular volume are centered on questions pertaining to human action and the philosophy of mind.

This Oxford University Press series is a helpful and timely addition to Davidsonian scholarship. While composed of previously published material, the collection thematically organizes and makes accessible many papers which had previously only been available in disparate journals and texts. Noteworthy essays in the current collection, from my perspective include, ‘How is Weakness of the Will Possible’, ‘Intending’ and ‘Mental Events’. Potential purchasers are advised to take a look at the on-line table of contents.

Strawson’s characterization of Davidson as a man ‘of thoroughbred intelligence who rides his mind at a gallop across country in pursuit of an idea’, has always struck me as an apt description. That is, even when Davidson’s destination is not as satisfying as one may have hoped the romp through the intellectual bushes is nevertheless edifying and enjoyable. That said, Davidson is an acquired taste much like fine poetry or music, an activity best suited for a mature palate well acclimated to the intricacies of modern analytic philosophy.
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