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Martha C. Nussbaum

Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences 2012

Martha Craven Nussbaum (New York, United States, 1947)  obtained her BA from NYU and was awarded a Ph.D. in Law and Ethics from Harvard in 1975.The founder and Coordinator of the Center for Comparative Constitutionalism, she is currently the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, appointed in the Philosophy Department, Law School and Divinity School of the University of Chicago, having taught at Harvard, Brown and Oxford.

Considered one of the most innovative and influential voices in philosophy today and an advocate of the role of the humanities in education, in her works Nussbaum propounds a universalist conception of women’s rights capable of overcoming the limits of cultural relativism. Her theories stem from the belief that people who understand good differently can agree on a number of universal ethical principles that are applicable wherever a situation of inequality and injustice arises.She has also put forward a constitutional and political framework which both respects local traditions and institutions and may give rise to political goals in specific contexts, thereby laying the ethical foundations for development aid.

Between 1986 and 1993, she was a research adviser at the World Institute for Development Economics Research (Helsinki, Finland), a part of the United Nations University. She has chaired the Committee on International Cooperation and the Committee on the Status of Women, both of the American Philosophical Association.She has been a member of the Council of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Board of the American Council of Learned Societies.

Among other works, she has written: Aristotle’s De MotuAnimalium (1978), Love’s Knowledge (1990), The Therapy of Desire (1994), Poetic Justice (1996), Sex and Social Justice (1998), Women and Human Development (2000), Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions (2001), Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame and the Law (2004), Frontiers of Justice: Disability, Nationality, Species Membership (2006), The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence and India’s Future (2007), Liberty of Conscience: In Defense of America’s Tradition of Religious Equality (2008), From Disgust to Humanity: Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law (2010), Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (2010) and Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach (2011).

Member of the Academy of Finland and Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy (2008), she holds honorary degrees from more than thirty universities in the United States, Canada, Asia and Europe. Among the awards she has received are the Brandeis Creative Arts Award in Non-Fiction (1990), the PEN Spielvogel-Diamondstein Award for the best collection of essays (1991), the Ness Book Award of the American Association of Colleges and Universities (1998), the Book Award of the North American Society of Social Philosophy (2000), for Sex and Social Justice, the Grawemeyer Award in Education (2002), the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of New York (2000), the Barnard College Medal of Distinction (2003), the Professional and Scholarly Book Award for Law from the Association of American University Publishers (2004), the Redcliffe Alumnae Recognition Award (2007), the A.SK Social Science Award of the Social Science Research Center Berlin (2009), and the Henry M. Phillips Prize in Jurisprudence from the American Philosophical Society (2009).

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