William Herbert Dray

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William H. Dray
Born (1921-06-23)23 June 1921
Montreal, Canada
Died 6 August 2009(2009-08-06) (aged 87)
Occupation Writer, Philosopher, Professor
Nationality Canadian
Alma mater University of Toronto (BA)
Oxford University (BA, MA, DPhil)

William Herbert Dray (23 June 1921, in Montreal – 6 August 2009, in Toronto) was a Canadian philosopher of history. He was Professor Emeritus at the University of Ottawa.[1]

He is known for his version of anti-positivist Verstehen in history, in Laws and Explanation in History,[2] and his work on R. G. Collingwood.

Selected publications

  • Dray, William H. (1957). Laws and Explanation in History. Oxford University Press.
  • Dray, William H. (1964). Philosophy of History. Prentice-Hall.
  • Dray, William H. (1967). "Holism and Individualism in History and Social Science." In: The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol. 4. Londres: Macmillan.
  • Dray, William H. (1971). "On the Nature and role of narrative in historiography." In: History and Theory, Vol. 10 (2): 153–71.
  • Dray, William H. (1981). "Colligation under Appropriate Conceptions." In: Substance and Form in History. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press.
  • Dray, William H. (1989). On History and Philosophers of History, Vol. 2 of Philosophy of History and Culture, ed. by Krausz, Michael. Brill.
  • Dray, William H. (1996). History as Re-enactment: R. G. Collingwood's Idea of History. Oxford: Clarendon Press.


  1. Official page
  2. Michael Martin, Verstehen: The Uses of Understanding in the Social Sciences (2000), p. 103.


  • Carroll Goon, The Nature of Historical Explanation: An Analysis and Critique of the Hempel-Dray Debate. Toronto: Institute for Christian Studies (1984).
  • Robert Nadeau, "L'Explication Rationnelle en Histoire: Dray, Collingwood et Hempel," Cahiers d'Épistémologie (2005).
  • Lionel Rubinoff, "W. H. Dray and the Critique of Historical Thinking." In: Objectivity, Method and Point of View: Essays in the Philosophy of History. Leiden: Brill (1991).