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Onora O’Neill Does it Again

Onora Sylvia O’Neill, Baroness of O’Neill of Bengarve has won the 2017 Berggruen Prize for Philosophy & Culture. The second recipient of the prize, she was awarded $1 million for her life’s work in public service and philosophy. The judges commended her efforts to apply her laborious philosophical work to the real world:

“She has brought the resources of philosophy to bear on questions about hunger, medical and environmental ethics, and human rights, writing lucidly and accessibly about them in ways that have helped to guide policy. But she has also served the United Kingdom as the chair of its Equality and Human Rights Commission, as chair of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, and as a member of the Human Genetics Advisory Commission, all of which play central roles in formulating and implementing just policy” the judges stated.

Amy Gutmann, Berggruen juror who chaired the US Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues referred to her book, Bounds of Justice (9780521447447) published by Cambridge in 2000: “One of the most striking aspects of Onora O’Neill’s work is that it combines philosophical rigour with timely prescriptions for what we really need to do to make the human condition better.”

Lady O’Neill’s response to the award: “I’m not merely pleased, delighted and astonished to be awarded the prize, but particularly pleased that the thought is about the role of philosophy in the world.” 

An emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Cambridge, former principal of Newnham College, Cambridge, and chairwoman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Lady O’Neill is the current president of the Society for Applied Philosophy.

The Berggruen Prize, given by the Berggruen Institute is for an individual “whose ideas have helped us find direction, wisdom, and improved self-understanding in a world being rapidly transformed by profound social, technological, political, cultural, and economic change.”

Photograph: Frantzesco Kangaris/PA

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