Rede des Vorsitzenden der A.SK-Findungskommission, Werner Abelshauser, am 17. Februar 2009 im Roten Rathaus Berlin anläßlich der Verleihung des A.SK Social Science Award an Professor Martha Nussbaum.



Sehr geehrter Herr Bundespräsident,

Sehr geehrter Herr Bundestagsvizepräsident,

Sehr geehrter Herr Präsident des Berliner Abgeordnetenhauses

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,

Liebe Frau Nussbaum,


erlauben Sie mir, mit Rücksicht auf anwesende Mitglieder des A.SK-Stiftungsrates und die Preisträgerin ein paar Worte auf Englisch zu sagen.


At the ceremony in December 2007, when Sir Tony Atkinson was awarded the first A.SK price, I had the opportunity to explain the goals of the A.SK Social Science Award at some length. One of the core statements of that adress has been that the A.SK Foundation wants to promote academic work radically exploring the possibilities “for more direct links of the financial sector to the national production of goods and services in order to prevent monetary instabilities and speculative deformations”. I am not sure whether or not the majority of the audience in those light-minded Pre-Crises-Days did really understand the urgency and the dynamite hidden behind the A.SK mission. However, the monstrosity of the capital market is only one problem, the A.SK Foundation wants to tackle.


The mission of the Social Science Award is definitly broader. The goal is to encourage social system reform, to facilitate and broaden people’s productive activities with fair wealth distribution, as well as competently address current social issues. Society is rapidly changing, and old systems have become incompatible with new realities. New problems can only be solved with new solutions – or with old solutions in a new perspective. I am afraid there is even more dynamite hidden. Therefore, the A.SK Social Science Award honours new and radical ideas to solve these problems with a price of 100.000 €.


Let me again quote Shu Kai Chan who - together with his wife Angela - has donatet the price: “We have to make a wake up call, let people know there can be a new social system to solve our so many troublesome problems and create a new kind of society that could give all people to work with fair wealth distribution and a competent government and a new check and balance power system.”


Having this in mind, the Comitee for the A.SK Social Science Award and hence the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung honor Martha C. Nussbaum with the 2009 A.SK Social Science Award. We do recognize her work addressing key issues of human rights, social justice, and rational political decision-making that are at the core of what makes modern societies viable and sustainable. With intellectual keenness and outspokeness she has advocated the need to ackknowledge and continuously nourish human “capabilities”. By focusing on human capabilities, such as those that enable actors to engage in economic transactions and participate in political activities, Martha Nussbaum has provided a framework within to tackle the major challenges of public policy: ending economic and social exploitation, limiting the excessive use of power, and promoting the well-being of all citizens.