William Herbert Dray

William Herbert Dray, philosopher, professor (born at Montréal PQ 23 June 1921; died at Toronto ON 6 Aug 2009). After serving as a navigator in the RCAF (SeeMILITARY AVIATION) during the SECOND WORLD WAR, William H.

William Herbert Dray

William Herbert Dray, philosopher, professor (born at Montréal PQ 23 June 1921; died at Toronto ON 6 Aug 2009). After serving as a navigator in the RCAF (SeeMILITARY AVIATION) during the SECOND WORLD WAR, William H. Dray studied history at the UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO (1949), before proceeding to Oxford (D Phil 1956). He taught at the University of Toronto from 1953 until 1968, when he moved to the PHILOSOPHY department at TRENT UNIVERSITY (1968-76), serving as chair for 5 years. From 1976 to 1985 he taught at the UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA.

Dray made significant contributions to the analytical philosophy of history and the social sciences: he was a persistent critic of positivist tendencies, arguing that the model of explanation used in the natural sciences is inappropriate for the human sciences (SeeLOGIC, EPISTEMOLOGY, PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE). He also contributed to the study of the HISTORIOGRAPHY of the English Civil War and has stimulated an interest in philosophers of history such as R.G. Collingwood. His major works, which have been translated into many languages, include Laws and Explanation in History (1957), Philosophy of History (1964) and Perspectives on History (1980), On History and Philosophers of History (1989), and History as Re-Enactment: R. G. Collingwood's Idea of History (1995). He was fellow of the ROYAL SOCIETY OF CANADA, was a Killam fellow (1980-81) and in 1986 received the prestigious MOLSON PRIZE.