Onora ONeill

The Holberg Prize 2017 awarded to Professor Onora O'Neill#


The Holberg Prize 2017 is awarded to British scholar and Philosophy Professor Onora O'Neill, University of Cambridge, for her influential role in ethical and political philosophy. Professor O'Neil is a member of the Philosopy, Theology and Religious Studies section of the Academia Europaea.

The Holberg Prize is an international research prize awarded annually to a scholar who has made outstanding contributions to research in the arts and humanities, social science, law or theology. The Prize is worth NOK 4,500,000 (approx. USD 525,000) and was established by the Norwegian Parliament in 2003.

Professor O’Neill will receive the Prize for her distinguished and influential role in the field of philosophy and for shedding light on pressing intellectual and ethical questions of our time. Her contribution to our understanding of Immanuel Kant is regarded as transformative and has led to a renewed interest in his work. In particular, O’Neill has explored the requirements of public reason and how they relate to international justice and to the roles of trust and accountability in public life. The Prize will be conferred by HRH the Crown Prince Haakon during a formal ceremony at University of Bergen Aula on June 8th, 2017.

Reason and action#

For almost half a century, O’Neill has combined writing on political philosophy and ethics with a range of public activities, and her work has influenced generations of scholars, policy makers and practitioners alike. She has written extensively on political philosophy and ethics, bioethics and international justice, and is highly regarded as a specialist on human rights. She has applied rigorous philosophical thinking when discussing major contemporary issues and her scholarship has had an immeasurable impact on the wider public sphere.

O’Neill describes the central question in her early works on Kant as “how reasoning could bear on action.” “This seemed and still seems to me the elephant in the room that is all too often ignored or pushed into the margins in philosophical work in ethics and political philosophy,” she says.

O'Neill was President of the British Academy between 2005 and 2009, where she became a Fellow in 1993. From 1992 until 2006 she was Principal of Newnham College, University of Cambridge, where she is now Honorary Fellow. O’Neill was created a life peer as Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve in 1999 and has served as a crossbench member of the House of Lords since 2000.

(Source: Holberg Prize)

Academia Europaea congratulates Prof. O'Neill to this to this outstanding distinction! #






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