PBK Lecture 2014: Anthony Appiah
"Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers"
How is it possible to consider the world a moral community when there is so much disagreement about the nature of morality? In this talk, based on his award-winning book Cosmopolitanism, Anthony Appiah presents answers that are grounded in a new ethics which celebrates our common humanity, while at the same time offering a practical way to manage our differences. He offers a new approach to living a moral life in the modern age, where the competing claims of "a clash of civilizations" on one hand, and a groundless moral relativism on the other, can make such a project seem impossible. With wit, reason, and humanity, Appiah explores some of the central ethical questions of our time.
Named one of Foreign Policy’s Top 100 public intellectuals, Kwame Anthony Appiah teaches at New York University. He has previously taught at Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Duke, and the University of Ghana. He is also the President of the PEN American Center, the world’s oldest human rights organization. In 2012, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal by The White House.
Anthony Appiah’s book Cosmopolitanism is a manifesto for a world where identity has become a weapon and where difference has become a cause of pain and suffering. Cosmopolitanism won the Arthur Ross Book Award, the most significant prize given to a book on international affairs. In his latest book, The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen, Appiah lays out how honor propelled moral revolutions in the past—and could do so in the future.
Kwame Anthony Appiah was born in London to a Ghanaian father and a white mother. He was raised in Ghana, and educated in England, at Cambridge University, where he received a Ph.D. in philosophy. As a scholar of African and African-American studies, he established himself as an intellectual with a broad reach. His book In My Father's House and his collaborations with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.—including The Dictionary of Global Culture and Africana—are major works of African struggles for self-determination. In 2009, he was featured in Astra Taylor’s documentary Examined Life, alongside Martha Nussbaum, Slavoj Zizek, and other leading contemporary philosophers.