Kwame Anthony Appiah

Kwame Anthony Appiah was born in England and raised in Ghana. He studied medical sciences and philosophy at Cambridge University as an undergraduate and completed a doctoral degree in philosophy there in 1982. Since then, he has taught at Yale, Cornell, Duke, Harvard, and Princeton, before coming to NYU to be Professor of Philosophy and Law in 2013. He has written widely in philosophy, especially in ethics and political philosophy, and in African and African-American Studies, and lectured on these subjects in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Professor Appiah is the author of In My Father’s House: Africa in the Philosophy of CultureCosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers, The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen, and The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity, as well as more than a dozen other philosophical works, three novels, and hundreds of articles and reviews. With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. he edited the Encarta Africana for Microsoft and the five-volume Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African-American Experience. Since October 2015, Appiah has written the weekly Ethicist column in The New York Times. In 2016, he gave the Reith Lectures for the BBC, which were entitled Mistaken Identities, and were recorded in London, Glasgow, Accra, and New York.

Professor Appiah has received honorary degrees from 15 universities, most recently Occidental College (2012), Harvard University (2012), the University of Pennsylvania (2013), Edinburgh University (2013), and Wesleyan University (2016). He has been President of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association, of the PEN American Center, and of the Modern Language Association, and also chaired the Board of the American Council of Learned Societies. He currently sits on the boards of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Facing History and Ourselves, the New York Public Theater, and The New York Public Library. In 2012, President Obama presented him with the National Humanities Medal. In 2017, he became a member of the Royal Society of Literature.

Photo Credit: Henry Finder

Back to Presenters