Kwame Anthony Appiah (/ˈæpɪɑː/ API-ah; born May 8, 1954) is a British-born Ghanaian philosopher, cultural theorist, and novelist whose interests include political and moral theory, the philosophy of language and mind, and African intellectual history. Kwame Anthony Appiah grew up in Ghana and earned a Ph.D. at Cambridge University. He was the Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University, before moving to New York University in 2014. He currently holds an appointment at NYU’s Department of Philosophy and NYU's School of Law.
Personal life and education
Appiah was born in London to Enid Margaret Appiah, an art historian and writer, and Joe Emmanuel Appiah (born 16 November 1918), a lawyer, diplomat, and politician from the Asante region, once part of the British Gold Coast colony but now part of Ghana. For two years (1970–72) Joe Appiah was the leader of a new opposition party that was made by the country's three opposing parties, simultaneously he was the president of the Ghana Bar association. Between the years 1977 and 1978, he was Ghana's representative at the United Nations. He died on 8 July 1990 in an Accra hospital at the age of 71.
Anthony Appiah was raised in Kumasi, Ghana, and educated at Bryanston School and Clare College, Cambridge, where he earned his BA (First Class) and Ph.D. in philosophy. Appiah has three sisters: Isobel, Adwoa and Abena. As a child, he also spent a good deal of time in England, staying with his grandmother Isobel, the Honourable Lady Cripps, widow of the English statesman the Right Honourable Sir Stafford Cripps. His family has a long political tradition: his maternal grandfather Sir Stafford was Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer (1947–50) under Clement Attlee. His great grandfather, Charles Cripps, 1st Baron Parmoor, was the Labour Leader of the House of Lords (1929–31) under Ramsay MacDonald; Parmoor had been a Conservative MP before defecting to Labour. Through Professor Appiah's father, a Nana of the Ashanti people, he is also a direct descendant of Osei Tutu, the warrior emperor of pre-colonial Ghana, whose reigning successor, the Asantehene, is a distant relative of the Appiah family.
He lives with his husband, Henry Finder, in an apartment in Chelsea, Manhattan, and a home in Pennington, New Jersey. Appiah has written about what it was like growing up gay in Ghana.
Kwame Anthony Appiah during a lecture and visit to Knox College in 2006.
Appiah has taught philosophy and African-American studies at the University of Ghana, Cornell, Yale, Harvard, and Princeton Universities from 1981 to 1988. He was, until recently, a Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy at Princeton (with a cross-appointment at the University Center for Human Values) and was serving as the Bacon-Kilkenny Professor of Law at Fordham University in the fall of 2008. Appiah also served on the board of PEN American Center and was on a panel of judges for the PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award. He has taught at Yale, Cornell, Duke, and Harvard universities and lectured at many other institutions in the US, Germany, Ghana and South Africa, and Paris. Until the fall of 2009, he served as a trustee of Ashesi University College in Accra, Ghana. Currently, he is the professor of philosophy and law at NYU.
His Cambridge dissertation explored the foundations of probabilistic semantics. In 1992, Appiah published In My Father's House, which won the Herskovitz Prize for African Studies in English. Among his later books are Colour Conscious (with Amy Gutmann), The Ethics of Identity (2005), and Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (2006). He has been a close collaborator with Henry Louis Gates Jr., with whom he edited Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African-American Experience. Appiah was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1995.
In 2008, Appiah published Experiments in Ethics, in which he reviews the relevance of empirical research to ethical theory. In the same year, he was recognized for his contributions to racial, ethnic, and religious relations when Brandeis University awarded him the first Joseph B. and Toby Glitter
As well as his academic work, Appiah has also published several works of fiction. His first novel, Avenging Angel, set at the University of Cambridge, involved a murder among the Cambridge Apostles; Sir Patrick Scott is the detective in the novel. Appiah's second and third novels are Nobody Likes Letitia and Another Death in Venice.
Appiah has been nominated for, or received, several honours. He was the 2009 finalist in the arts and humanities for the Eugene R. Gannon Award for the Continued Pursuit of Human Advancement. In 2010, he was named by Foreign Policy magazine on its list of top global thinkers. On February 13, 2012, Appiah was awarded the National Humanities Medal at a ceremony at the White House.