University welcomes world-renowned philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah

10/6/2010 - By: Claudene Wharton

Northern Nevadans will get a rare opportunity to share an evening with a world-renowned philosopher Oct. 18, when Kwame Anthony Appiah will present at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Appiah is currently a philosophy professor at Princeton, and has taught philosophy and African and African-American studies at Cambridge, Duke, Cornell, Yale and Harvard. His 2006 book, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (W.W. Norton), examines the concept of cosmopolitanism, or global citizenship. Being raised in Ghana and England, earning his doctorate at Cambridge, and now residing in New York City and New Jersey, Appiah brings unique experience and insight to examine the true meaning of cosmopolitanism.

“Professor Appiah is an internationally known speaker, and we are delighted to bring him to our campus,” said Deborah Achtenberg, chair of the University’s philosophy department. “Thanks to the philosophy department’s Leonard Endowment, we have been privileged to bring a number of the world’s top philosophers to campus over the years. His visit is an opportunity to hear firsthand from one of the leading public intellectuals in the world today.”

“Cosmopolitanism” will be the topic of Appiah’s 7:30 p.m. presentation Oct. 18 at the University’s Joe Crowley Student Union, Ballroom A. The presentation is the first annual Paul and Gwen Leonard Ethics and Politics Lecture sponsored by the philosophy department, the Leonard Endowment in Philosophy, and the University. The Leonard family, including Paul and Gwen, 1936 and 1937 journalism and history graduates of the University, respectively, generously supported the University for many years, and their daughter, Reverend Jackie Leonard, also an alum, continues their philanthropic efforts. As a result, the presentation is free and open to the public, with complimentary parking available on the top floor of the Brian J. Whalen Parking Structure.

Appiah will also hold an open forum with faculty and students, discussing “The Life of Honor,” that day at 3:30 p.m. in the University’s Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, Room 422 (The Paul and Gwen Leonard Faculty and Graduate Student Reading Room). In his most recent book, The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen (W.W. Norton), Appiah explores what brings about moral progress, examining moral revolutions in the past and tactics being employed today to try to counter abhorrent practices. He theorizes that only honor – not appeals to reason, morality or religion – bring about true reform.

“The issues Professor Appiah will explore here, involving global responsibility, justice and moral reform, are at the heart of philosophy and our department’s new programs in ethics, law and politics that will begin in 2011 to complement our general philosophy degrees,” Achtenberg said. Every year, in our Ethics and Politics Lecture, we will bring leading thinkers to spur discussions on crucial ethical and political issues, not only among our students and faculty, but also among our neighbors in the community.”


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