The American philosopher Martha C. Nussbaum has been bestowed with the 2012 Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences, as made public today in Oviedo by the Jury responsible for conferring said Award.

The Jury for the Award –convened by the Prince of Asturias Foundation– was chaired by Aurelio Menéndez Menéndez, Marquis of Ibias, and composed of Inés Alberdi Alonso, Lluis Xabel Álvarez Fernández, Gonzalo Anes y Álvarez de Castrillón, Marquis of Castrillón, Inés Fernández-Ordoñez Hernández, José Luis Garcia Delgado, Severino García Vigón, Mauro Guillén Rodríguez, María del Carmen Iglesias Cano, Adolfo Menéndez Menéndez, Manuel Menéndez Menéndez, Manuel Olivencia Ruiz, José Manuel Otero Novas, Carmen Pérez Die, Rafael Puyol Antolín and Juan Vázquez García (acting as secretary).

Born in New York (USA) in 1947, Martha Craven Nussbaum 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.

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