Photo via The Harvard Gazette
Photo via The Ethics Centre

Kwame Anthony Appiah










70 years





What makes Kwame Anthony Appiah a Global Shaker?

Born in London, raised in Ghana, Kwame Anthony Appiah received his PhD from Clare College, Cambridge, and currently is a Professor with the NYU Department of Philosophy and the NYU School of Law.

Appiah, is a philosopher who has dedicated his life to understanding the ever-evolving complexities of identity in the modern world.

As a mixed-race, LGBTQ man living as an immigrant in the USA, who has lived in both Europe and Africa — identity is something Appiah has had to ponder a lot.

He may be best known for his work on cosmopolitanism, a philosophy that holds all human beings as members of a single, global community.

Because Appiah is a cosmopolitan (meaning “citizen of the world”), he believes we have just as much moral responsibility to our neighbours as we do those halfway across the world.

With a culturally-mixed background and a refreshingly sharp intellect around the construction of race, in his books, Color Conscious: The Political Morality of Race (1996) and The Ethics of Identity (2005), Appiah has approached the concept of “biological race” as conceptually problematic and argues that such notions of group identity like race, religion, gender, and sexuality harm the individual by oversimplifying their identity and constraining their freedom.

Appiah’s most recent book, The Lies That Bind (2018), does not deny the importance of a grounded identity, and the necessity of protecting vulnerable groups. Rather he reminds us that identities are inventions dependent on circumstances and subject to change over time.

In 2012, Appiah was awarded the National Humanities Medal by then President Barack Obama.

A stimulating and trusted voice, he writes weekly for the “Ethicist” column for The New York Times and was the chair of judges for the 2018 Man Booker Prize.

“The challenge, then, is to take minds and hearts formed over the long millennia of living in local troops and equip them with ideas and institutions that will allow us to live together as the global tribe we have become.”

Tags: Equality, identity, Race

Last updated: November 21, 2019