(see Commencement Program page)

Nancy Ann Hirschberg

In Memoriam

1937 - 1979

Nancy's Yearbook Photo reads:

"Fun-loving Nancy was a welcome addition to Burlingame in her sophomore year. She became one of the hard-working cogs in the machine of activities as Latin Club president, a member of the Senior Cabinet, Commission of School Affairs, Activities Committee, Publicity Commission, French Club, the Scholarship Society, Pep Club, and head of the Sophomore Assembly. Next Fall will find the peppy senior taking up the study of law at University of California."

Little is directly known about Nancy's life after 1955.

Classmate John Hansen reports attending Stanford with her.

From snippets found on the internet:

Nancy's undergraduate studies at Stanford were in philosophy , but her career in academia was in the world of psychology. She was highly regarded as you will see from the notes below.

We hear that Nancy's first marriage was to Jerry Wiggins. If that is correct, the following excerpt seems to fit:

Jerry S. Wiggins was born in 1931. He attended college at American University in Washington, D.C., and received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Indiana University in 1956. He taught at Stanford from 1957 through 1962, at the University of Illinois from 1962 through 1973, and from 1973 to retirement taught at the University of British Columbia. At the University of Illinois, he, too, was caught up in "multivariate" analysis.

The citation that follows (found on the web) indicates Nancy was, indeed, at one time, Mrs. Wiggins:
Lewis R. Goldberg, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology, University of OregonEugene, OR 97403
February 20, 1981
“When Jerry S. Wiggins wrote what is now considered to be the major textbook in personality assessment, he dedicated it ‘To ORI: The people and the concept;’ in the preface he praised ‘...the stimulating intellectual atmosphere which prevails at that institution.’1 The place to which he referred was the Oregon Research Institute, which during the first decade of its existence (1960 to 1970) was probably as exciting a setting to pursue scientific problems as any in the world. Many of the leading scientists in the field of judgment and decisionmaking either worked at ORI ...or visited frequently (e.g.. Ward Edwards, Kenneth Hammond, Adriaan de Groot, Nancy Hirschberg Wiggins, Amos Tversky, and Daniel Kahneman)."

From a paper by Donald Davidson (Nancy Hirshberg was the second Mrs. Donald Davidson, see below In Memoriam, Donald Davidson):

"In 1968 Nancy Hirschberg invited me to give a talk to the Psychology Department at the University of Illinois in Champaign; Essay 11 was one result. In the composition of the last five Essays, I was guided by her knowledge of psychology and her candid advice. Her enthusiasm, gaity, and affection made the work fun and the fun wonderful."

Following her death in 1979, colleagues in the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois established the Nancy Hirschberg Memorial Award. The award citation reads (in part):

"Nancy Hirschberg was a member of the Psychology Department here in Champaign from 1964 until 1976, when she joined the psychology faculty at the U. of I. Chicago campus. Shortly after her death in February of 1979, her friends and colleagues at both campuses met to establish the Nancy Hirschberg Memorial Fund "to create a living remembrance... with the hope that her memory will serve to encourage others to attain their full potential. The Hirschberg Award is presented each year to a psychology graduate student who, during that year, has performed outstanding original research or scholarship in areas related to Professor Hirschberg's interests. These areas include individual differences, personality, human judgement, and multivariate analysis."

More recently the Nancy Hirschberg Memorial Grants for Undergraduate Research was established and is awarded annually to support excellent undergraduate research. The inaugural Competition was in 2008. (University of Illinois at Chicago, Dept. of Psychology).

Nancy's specialty in academia was multivariate behavioral research and she was a member of the Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology (SMEP).

In 1974, Nancy was awarded the Cattell Award, an award named for Raymond B. Cattell, a founder of SMEP. This award is an early-career award given annually by the Society to a young researcher who has made outstanding contributions to multivariate experimental psychology and who shows promise of continued work of a very high quality. Criteria for the award are as follows: (1) outstanding contribution to multivariate experimental psychology; (2) age 40 or younger, or 10 years or less post-Ph.D.; (3) a minimum of one publication in a refereed journal.

Insight into Nancy's private life comes from an unrelated internet tidbit:

Commentary of the book "A Leg Up: How I learned to Horseback Ride Starting at Age Forty" by Katherine Maxwell. Nancy says, "This is a great book, and I learned a lot by reading it. The desire to accomplish certain things in one's lifetime, and the fear and exhilaration of doing so at the age of forty are emotions that I could relate to. Nancy Hirschberg, Burlingame, CA "

Upon the death of Donald Davidson, his colleagues wrote a Memorial that provides insight into the kind of company that was Nancy's world.


Donald Davidson

Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus

Willis S. and Marion Slusser Professor of Philosophy



When Donald Davidson joined the University of California, Berkeley faculty in 1980, his international reputation—which has grown steadily since—was already secure and his philosophical views had been the topic of several seminars in the Department of Philosophy. Succeeding Paul Grice (1913-1988) as the department's senior research philosopher (though teaching a full course load that included undergraduate classes), Davidson brought to Berkeley an inspiring vigor both as philosopher and as teacher, along with absolute integrity as a thinker. On the teaching side, he took great interest in his students' work, both while they were in graduate school and as their careers subsequently developed. But his leading passion was for philosophy itself. From the day of his arrival until his untimely death, he seemed never to pause in his pursuit of a satisfactory synthesis of the ideas he had been wrestling with, refining, and expanding for decades: radical interpretation; anomalous monism; the interdependence of belief, desire, and meaning; decision theory as a model of the rational mind; the adequacy of a theory of truth as a theory of meaning; and interpretation as a species of measurement. Just before he died, he had almost finished readying for the press two collections of his recent essays and a third book, entitled Truth and Predication.

He also brought to Berkeley his well-deserved prestige. Although it is no exaggeration to say that he was an eminent figure in 1981, by 2003 he was one of the world's best known and most studied contemporary philosophers. He was appointed to about 60 posts as a visiting professor or lecturer, at universities from Sydney and Tokyo to Venice and Cape Town. At least seven international conferences have been held on his work, starting in 1981. Among his many lecture series were some of Philosophy's most admired: the John Locke Lectures at the University of Oxford (1970), the John Dewey Lectures at Columbia University (1989), and the Kant Lectures at the University of Munich (1993). The Universities of Oxford (1995) and Stockholm (1999) both awarded him honorary doctorates. His work has been published in Japanese, Chinese, and 18 European languages, including Estonian and Hungarian. Another kind of recognition came in the form of a notable series of drawings, called Blind Time IV, by artist Robert Morris, reacting to passages from Davidson's writings.

Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, on March 6, 1917, Davidson spent his early childhood moving from place to place with his family, with the result that he didn't start first grade until he was nine or ten. Although he had begun reading philosophy, on his own when he was in high school he earned his Harvard University B.A in classics, in 1939. The following fall, he entered the Harvard Ph.D. program in philosophy and soon took a seminar from W.V. Quine that changed his attitude toward the subject. "Until then I had thought of philosophy as not as serious as science but more serious than art criticism," he recalled in an interview with Ernie Lepore, but the seminar made him realize "that it was possible to be serious about getting things right in philosophy—or at least not getting things wrong." (Donald Davidson, Problems of Rationality [Oxford: Oxford University Press, in press])

At the time the U.S. entered into World War II, Davidson had almost completed his Ph.D. work and was concurrently enrolled in Harvard's Business School. He left his studies to enlist in the U.S. Navy, where he trained spotters to distinguish Allied planes from those of the Axis, and he served as a spotter himself in the naval assaults on Sicily, Salerno, and Anzio. After the war, he finished his degree (1949) while teaching at Queens College in New York (1947-51). From 1951 until 1967, he was on the faculty at Stanford University, where he helped to found a Ph.D. program in philosophy and transform the department into one of the country's best regarded. It was there that he wrote and published the first essays in the long series upon which his reputation is founded: "Actions, Reasons and Causes" (1963), "Theories of Meaning and Learnable Language" (1966), "The Logical Form of Action Sentences," "Causal Relations," and "Truth and Meaning" (all three from 1967).

In moving to Princeton University in 1967, he was largely motivated by the desire to join a community of scholars who could understand his ideas and help him develop and articulate them and discover their implications and interrelations. The desire was fulfilled, but he was soon offered an even more tempting prospect: the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of such a community at the Rockefeller University in New York City. From 1970 until 1976, Davidson maintained a relationship with the Princeton faculty while his primary appointment was in the legendary all-star, teaching-optional Philosophy Department at Rockefeller. Rockefeller, however, abandoned its experiment in the humanities and dissolved the department. In 1976, Davidson became University Professor at the University of Chicago, where his second wife, Nancy Hirschberg, was also appointed to the faculty. After Hirschberg's death, Davidson felt he had little reason to remain in Chicago, and it was the Berkeley department's good fortune to persuade him to join it rather than one of his many other suitors.

In 1984, Davidson's private life became much happier when he married Marcia Cavell, whom he had met years before at Stanford. Cavell, a philosopher and psychoanalyst, left her position at the State University of New York at Purchase to come to Berkeley, where she taught courses from time to time in the Department of Philosophy. After Davidson's mandatory retirement from Berkeley in 1987, he continued to hold the Willis S. and Marion Slusser Professorship, to which he had been appointed in 1986, and he remained very active both in teaching and in departmental affairs, even as outside demands on his time burgeoned. Recently he had been in excellent health, but he regretted the inevitable diminution of the strength and energy that had once enabled him to surf, fly airplanes, ski, hike, and otherwise enjoy the outdoor life. Difficulty in walking led him to undergo knee-replacement surgery. The disastrous result was cardiac arrest shortly after the operation and death a few days later, on August 30, 2003. He is survived by Marcia Cavell; his daughter Elizabeth Davidson, whose mother was his first wife, Virginia Davidson; two grandchildren, Max and Natalie Boyer; and his sister, Jean Baldwin.

Those who knew Davidson will miss him and his warmth and kindness, wit and sense of fun, wisdom and enthusiasm for life. But his writings--his monuments--are likely to live on for a long time. Almost all of his work took the form of essays, many of the most important of which up to 1998 are available in the collections Essays on Actions and Events (1980), Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation (1984), and Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective (2001). The three volumes mentioned in the first paragraph above are expected to appear over the next couple of years.

Alan Code / Barry Stroud / Bruce Vermazen
University of California

From another Obituary on Donald Davidson found on the Internet: "In 1975 he made a very successful marriage with Nancy Hirshberg; a professor of psychology; but in 1979 she died of lung cancer.