World renowned philosopher speaks at Robb Lectures 2013

08 August 2013

Robb Lectures 2013: Identity, Honour and Politics

How do social identities shape our private and public lives?

Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah, world renowned philosopher, will explore this and related questions as speaker at this year’s University of Auckland Sir Douglas Robb Lectures.

Named one of the world’s seven most powerful thinkers by Forbes Magazine, Professor Appiah will deliver a series of three public lectures focusing on the importance of social identities for public life.

“As a gifted writer and internationally admired intellectual, Professor Appiah brings a powerful critical perspective, in particular to his discussion of ‘identity politics,’” says Professor Nigel Haworth, convenor of the Robb Lectures.

Professor Appiah’s first lecture will explore a philosophical account of the nature of social identities, focusing on the ways in which they are constituted through social interactions that involve both collaboration and conflict.

The second lecture will look at the ways in which honour, both individual and national, connects with democratic life.

In his final lecture, Professor Appiah will discuss ways in which national honour can be mobilized in cross-national dialogues about central questions of morality and human rights.

Since gaining a PhD in philosophy at Cambridge University, Professor Appiah has taught at Yale, Cornell, Duke and Harvard universities, and lectured at many other institutions in the United States, Germany, Ghana and South Africa. He currently teaches at Princeton University where he is Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy.

Professor Appiah has published widely in African and African-American literary and cultural studies. Among his works are three mystery novels and a variety of works in philosophy and cultural studies, some relatively technical and some addressed to a wider reading public; among the latter are Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers, Experiments in Ethics and The Honour Code.

Dates: Monday 19, Wednesday 21 and Friday 23 August 2013
Time: 7.30pm
Admission: Free
Venue: Fisher & Paykel Appliances Auditorium (260-115), Owen G Glenn Building, The University of Auckland, 12 Grafton Road, Central Auckland.

For full details on all three lectures please visit:


Further Bio Details

Born in London, Kwame Anthony Appiah grew up in Ghana. His mother was Peggy Appiah – novelist and children’s writer, and daughter of Sir Stafford Cripps, a British Chancellor of the exchequer. His Ghanaian father, Joseph Emmanuel Appiah, was lawyer, politician, Member of Parliament, and Ambassador.

He reviews regularly for the New York Review of Books, and has spoken often in public lectures in Europe, Africa and the Americas about topics in literature, philosophy, African studies and African American Studies.

In 1996, he published Color Conscious: The Political Morality of Race with Amy Gutmann; in 1997 the Dictionary of Global Culture, co edited with Henry Louis Gates Jr. In 2004, Oxford University Press published his introduction to contemporary philosophy entitled Thinking It Through.

In January 2005, Princeton University Press published The Ethics of Identity and in February 2006 Norton published Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. In January 2008, Harvard University Press published his Experiments in Ethics. Norton published The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen in October 2010.

Further biographical details available at