Onora O'Neill is a prominent political philosopher, and a crossbench member of the House of Lords. She studied philosophy, psychology and physiology at Oxford University, and pursued a doctorate at Harvard. She is a former professor of philosophy and served as the Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge. She has authored several books on political philosophy and ethics, international justice, bioethics and the philosophy of Immanuel Kant.
Onora O'Neill has been a member of and chaired the Nuffield Council on Bioethics and the Human Genetics Advisory Commission, and was closely involved in work on several reports on bio-medical issues. She was created a Life Peer in 1999 (Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve), and has served on House of Lords Select Committees on Stem Cell Research and BBC Charter Review.
O'Neill is especially known for her universalist and cosmopolitan standpoint. She believes that institution building can specify and allocate obligations to the needy. They are to specify who is obliged to fulfill economic rights. O'Neill firmly holds that the institutions have to be made accountable. This can be done through new technologies that are ideal for achieving transparency and openness. Justice, according to her, means finding the means for the vulnerable to express legitimate consent. This requires institutions that secure the option of refusal or renegotiation.