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Kwame Anthony Appiah - 3/3/08

Who We Are

Who We Are

Kwame Anthony AppiahKwame Anthony Appiah was born in London (where his Ghanaian father was a law student) but moved as an infant to Ghana, where he grew up. He was educated at Cambridge University in England, where he took both B.A. and Ph.D. degrees in philosophy. His dissertation explored the foundations of probabilistic semantics; once revised, these arguments were published by Cambridge University Press as "Assertion and Conditionals." Out of that first monograph grew a second book, "For Truth in Semantics," which dealt with Michael Dummett's defenses of semantic anti-realism. Since Cambridge, he has taught at Yale, Cornell, Duke, and Harvard universities and lectured at many other institutions in the United States, Germany, Ghana and South Africa, as well as at the école des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and he is now a member of the Princeton University faculty, where he is a Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy and the Center for Human Values.

Appiah has also published widely in African and African-American literary and cultural studies. In 1992, Oxford University Press published "In My Father's House," which deals, in part, with the role of African and African-American intellectuals in shaping contemporary African cultural life. His current interests range over African and African-American intellectual history and literary studies, ethics and philosophy of mind and language; and he has also taught regularly about African traditional religions. But his major current work has to do with the philosophical foundations of liberalism.

In 1996, Appiah published "Color Conscious: The Political Morality of Race" with Amy Gutmann; in 1997 the "Dictionary of Global Culture," co‑edited with Henry Louis Gates Jr. Along with Gates he has also edited the Encarta Africana CD-ROM encyclopedia, published by Microsoft, which became the Perseus Africana encyclopedia in book form. In 2003, he coauthored "Bu Me Bé: Proverbs of the Akan" (of which his mother is the major author), an annotated edition of 7,500 proverbs in Twi, the language of Asante. He is also the author of three novels, of which the first, "Avenging Angel," was largely set at Clare College, Cambridge. In 2004, Oxford University Press published his introduction to contemporary philosophy entitled "Thinking It Through." In January 2005, Princeton University Press published "The Ethics of Identity" and in 2006, Norton published "Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers."