An Old Boy of Westminster School, he was in the Royal Artillery during World War II, and was seriously injured in a practice gas attack. After leaving the army he studied classics at Balliol College, Oxford, and was then for many years a Student (Fellow) of Christ Church.
- Ludwig Wittgenstein. Viking Press 1970.
- Motivated Irrationality. Oxford: Clarendon Press 1984.
- The False Prison: A Study of the Development of Wittgenstein's Philosophy. 2 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press 1987/1988.
- Hume's System: An Examination of the First Book of His Treatise. Oxford: Oxford University Press 1991.
- Paradox and Platitude in Wittgenstein's Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2006.
- David Charles and William Child (Eds.). Wittgensteinian Themes: Essays in Honour of David Pears. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2002.