The prize, now in its second year, is offered by the Berggruen Institute in recognition of ‘humanistic thinkers whose ideas have helped us to find direction, wisdom and improved self-understanding in a world being rapidly transformed by profound technological, political, cultural and economic change’. Baroness O’Neill is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge and formerly Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge. She read Psychology, Philosophy and Physiology at Somerville and took her doctorate at Harvard before going on to an academic career at Barnard College, the University of Essex and Cambridge University. Her work brings philosophy to bear on questions of human rights and global justice in the modern world, and includes Faces of Hunger (1986), The Bounds of Justice (2000), ‘A Question of Trust’ (the 2002 Reith Lectures) and Justice Across Boundaries: Whose Obligations? (2016). She is a cross-bench member of the House of Lords and has served as chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and on the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, the Human Genetics Advisory Commission and the Banking Standards Board. She currently serves as a member of the Medical Research Council.
Earlier this year, Baroness O’Neill won the Holberg Prize established by the Norwegian Parliament in 2003 to recognise scholars who have made an outstanding contribution to research in the arts, humanities, social science, law or theology. The chair of the Holberg Prize committee, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, described Baroness O’Neill as ‘a true citizen philosopher’.