MORAL PHILOSOPHER AND PRESIDENT OF AMERICAN PEN
Appiah’s new book is “The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen” (2010), a landmark work that explores the dynamics of social changes that have led to the emancipation of women, slaves and other disenfranchised groups. In particular, Appiah demonstrates that notions of “personal honor” and “personal shame”— more than reason, morality or religion— have driven moral revolutions in the past, and explores how they can continue to do so in the future.
In advance praise, Nobel Prize-winner Nadine Gordimer called the new book, “brilliant… essential… inescapable in its urgent relevance….” Sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson said, “Appiah lays out a concept that is not only compelling in its own right but also suggests a connection that may in time help to collate biological and cultural exploration of human morality.”
“Publishers Weekly” said that the book, “… represents a refreshingly concrete solution to the question of how to alter deeply objectionable, deeply intractable human practices.”
Appiah successfully nominated Chinese author Liu Xiaobo of China for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize awarded at the beginning of October. The text of Appiah’s letter of nomination— which also presents a forceful argument for human rights reforms in China— was widely published in the American and international press. The President of the PEN American Center, the American branch of the world’s oldest human rights organization, Appiah was one of several thousand individuals privileged to submit Nobel Peace Prize nominations worldwide.
Raised in Ghana, and educated at Cambridge University, Appiah is descended on his mother’s side from the English peerage, and on his father’s side from the pre-colonial Emperor of Ghana. A frequent collaborator with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Appiah is the author of more than a dozen books including “Experiments in Ethics” (2008), “Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers” (2006) and “The Ethics of Identity” (2005). He is the Laurence S. Rockefeller Professor of Philosophy at Princeton.
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