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October 13, 2005

   

APPIAH TO DELIVER FLEXNER LECTURES ON ETHICS

K. Anthony Appiah

Renowned philosopher and Africana-studies scholar K. Anthony Appiah, one of the world's leading theorists of identity, race and culture, will deliver the 2005 Mary Flexner Lectures at Bryn Mawr College on four Thursdays in October and November. The overarching theme of the series will be "Why Ethics?" The individual lectures are "Experimental Ethics," on Oct. 20; "The Case Against Character," on Oct. 27; "The Case Against Intuition," on Nov. 3; and "The Ends of Ethics," on Nov. 10. Each talk will take place at 8 p.m. in Thomas Great Hall; the lectures are to be published by Harvard University Press.

Appiah, Princeton University's Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy and director of Princeton's University Center for Human Values, is the son of an English mother and a Ghanaian father. Born in London, he was raised primarily in Ghana and educated at Cambridge University, and has lived in the United States since the early 1980s. He served on the faculties of Yale, Cornell, Duke and Harvard Universities before taking his current post at Princeton.

Trained as a philosopher of language and logic, Appiah has substantial publications in the relatively arcane field of probabilistic semantics, but he is better known for his work on questions of race, multiculturalism and identity. His most famous book, In My Father's House, became an instant classic upon its publication in 1992 and is one of the most-assigned books on Africana-studies reading lists; its trenchant critique of the concept of race has been so widely cited that it has become virtually canonical in the humanities.

Among Appiah's other works are Color Conscious: The Political Morality of Race, co-written with Amy Gutmann; The Ethics of Identity; Thinking It Through: An Introduction to Contemporary Philosophy; and his forthcoming book, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. He has teamed with Henry Louis Gates Jr. to edit numerous volumes, including the ambitious Encyclopedia Africana, and has published an annotated edition of proverbs in Twi, the language of the Asante people in West Africa. He is also the author of three mystery novels. His major current project deals with the philosophical foundations of liberalism.

The Mary Flexner Lectures have brought some of the world's best-known humanists to the Bryn Mawr campus. The pioneering Egyptologist James H. Breasted gave the first series of Flexner Lectures in 1928-29, to be followed in later years by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Alfred North Whitehead, I.A. Richards, Alfred H. Barr Jr., Arnold Toynbee, Erwin Panofsky, Isaiah Berlin, Paul Henry Lang, Douglas Cooper, Frank Kermode, Natalie Zemon Davis and Harold Bloom, among others.

 

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