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Kwame Anthony Appiah
Kwame Anthony Appiah


NYS Writers Institute, November 11, 2010
7:30 p.m. Reading | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Standish Room, Science Library

Kwame Anthony Appiah, eminent philosopher, president of the writers organization American Pen, and author of the letter of nomination for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for Liu Xiaobo, will discuss his new book, “The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen” (2010),at 7:30 p.m. [NOTE EARLY START TIME], Thursday, November 11, 2010, in the Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m. the author will present an informal seminar in the Standish Room, Science Library, on the uptown campus. Sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute, the events are free and open to the public.


Kwame Anthony Appiah,
key figure in the fields of moral philosophy, cultural theory and Africana Studies, is best-known for his powerful argument that “race” and “culture” are arbitrary constructs. Writing recently in the “New York Review of Books,” Jeremy Waldron called him, “One of our most imaginative writers on topics like culture, values, and individual identity... [a philosopher] not bound by any disciplinary straitjacket.”

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.

The Honor CodeIn 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.”

Kwame Anthony AppiahAppiah 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.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.