Donald Davidson has prepared a new edition of his classic 1980 collection of Essays on Actions and Events, including two additional essays. In this seminal investigation of the nature of human action, Davidson argues for an ontology which includes events along with persons and other objects. Certain events are identified and explained as actions when they are viewed as caused and rationalized by reasons; these same events, when described in physical,
biological, or physiological terms, may be explained by appeal to natural laws. The mental and the physical thus constitute irreducibly discrete ways of explaining and understanding events and their causal relations.
Among the topics discussed are: freedom to act; weakness of the will; the logical form of talk about actions, intentions, and causality; the logic of practical reasoning; Hume's theory of the indirect passions; and the nature and limits of decision theory. The introduction, cross-references, and appendices emphasize the relations between the essays and explain how Davidson's views have developed.
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.
1. ACTIONS, REASONS, AND CAUSES (1963) ; 6. THE LOGICAL FORM OF ACTION SENTENCES (1967) ; 11. MENTAL EVENTS (1970)