CWRU to honor Professor Martha C. Nussbaum with Inamori Ethics Prize Oct. 15

Martha Nussbaum
Martha Nussbaum

Martha C. Nussbaum, the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago and a founding president of the Human Development and Capability Association, will be awarded the 2015 Inamori Ethics Prize by Case Western Reserve University’s Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence.

The university will honor Nussbaum during the Inamori Ethics Prize Ceremony at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15, in Case Western Reserve’s Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center at The Temple – Tifereth Israel. After receiving the medal, the honoree will present the lecture, “Capabilities and Human Development: The Importance of Philosophy.”

At 12:30 p.m. on the following day (Friday, Oct. 16), the public can learn more about Nussbaum’s work during an academic symposium panel discussion at Reinberger Chamber Hall in Severance Hall. Joining Nussbaum will be panelists Peter E. Knox, the Eric and Jane Nord Family Professor and director of the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities at Case Western Reserve, and Diana Strassmann, the Carolyn and Fred McManis Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Humanities and director of the Program on Poverty, Justice, and Human Capabilities at Rice University.

Both events are free and open to the public. Register online. For information, call 216.368.2579.

The annual Inamori Ethics Prize honors an individual “who has demonstrated exemplary ethical leadership” and “whose actions and influence have greatly improved the condition of humankind.” Nussbaum is one of the world’s leading philosophers, particularly on issues of moral and political theory, education, social equality, emotions, feminism, and ancient Greek and Roman philosophy.

Along with economist Amartya Sen, Nussbaum reoriented conversations of international welfare efforts away from exclusive focus on GDP and toward the capabilities of a nation’s individuals.

“Martha’s brilliant ‘capabilities approach’ has transformed the global conversation about human rights and what it means to treat other humans ethically,” said Inamori Center Director and Inamori Professor in Ethics Shannon E. French. “This approach looks at what each individual is actually capable of being and doing, and gives practical direction for seeking justice and positive change for those who cannot access opportunities or enjoy the basic freedoms they need to flourish and unlock their potential.”

In addition to her appointment in the University of Chicago Law School, Nussbaum also has appointments in philosophy, classics, the divinity school, political science, and the Committee on South Asian Studies. She is a board member of the Human Rights Program, and a member of the faculty steering committee of the University of Chicago Center in Delhi.

Nussbaum’s longstanding connection with India includes a consultancy with the United Nations Development Programme-Delhi on gender and governance, and she works on gender equality and law with The Lawyer’s Collective in Delhi. Nussbaum also has been a visiting professor of political science at Jawaharlal Nehru University, and is an honorary professor of the Institute for Development Studies Kolkata.

Nussbaum received her MA and PhD from Harvard University. Prior to joining the faculty of the University of Chicago, she was a University Professor at Brown University. From 1986 to 1993, she was a research adviser at the World Institute for Development Economics Research, Helsinki, a branch of the United Nations University; it was there that Nussbaum and Sen started working together to establish the Human Development/Capabilities approach to the measurement of global welfare.

She has received 51 honorary degrees from universities in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Nussbaum also has garnered many prizes, including the Prince of Asturias Prize in 2012 and the Nonino Prize in 2015.

In 2014, Nussbaum presented the John Locke lectures at Oxford University on the theme of Anger and Forgiveness; a book of the same title will be published in 2016.

Among many other works, Nussbaum is the author of Sex and Social Justice (1999), Women and Human Development (2000), Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law (2004), Frontiers of Justice (2006), Creating Capabilities (2011), and Political Emotions (2013).

Since 2008, the Inamori Center has presented the Inamori Ethics Prize as part of its mission to foster ethical leadership.

Nussbaum will join a distinguished group of previous Inamori Prize winners: Dr. Denis Mukwege, founder of Panzi Hospital and women’s rights advocate, 2014; Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia Inc., 2013; David Suzuki, environmentalist and broadcaster, 2012; Beatrice Mtetwa, human rights lawyer, 2011; Stan Brock, founder of Remote Area Medical, 2010; Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights and Ireland’s first woman president, 2009; and Dr. Francis S. Collins, leader of the Human Genome Project and director of the National Institutes of Health, 2008.