Reviews of The Lies That Bind

“With deep learning and incisive reasoning, Appiah makes a forceful argument for building identity from individual aspirations rather than exclusionary dogmas.”

Publishers Weekly

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“ … the author has a penetrating grasp of the complexities of identity, and he wields history like a scalpel, extracting the cancerous myths, poisonous prejudices, and foolish antagonisms that divide us… A well-informed philosophical investigation into methods for breaking through ‘walls that will not let in fresh and enlivening air.'”

Kirkus Reviews

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Reviews of As If

“There is much more in this rich and illuminating book, including a fine discussion of our emotional response to fiction and drama. Appiah’s insight is that when we feel genuine sadness at the death of Ophelia, it is not because of what Coleridge called the ‘willing suspension of disbelief,’ but because of the suspension of “the normal affective response to disbelief.” We react as if we believe an unhappy young woman has died, although we do not believe it, so this is another case of idealization.

The examples that Appiah discusses are interesting in themselves, but he also thinks they offer a larger lesson:

Once we come to see that many of our best theories are idealizations, we will also see why our best chance of understanding the world must be to have a plurality of ways of thinking about it. This book is about why we need a multitude of pictures of the world. It is a gentle jeremiad against theoretical monism.

It isn’t just that we need different theories for different aspects of the world, but that our best understanding may come from theories or models that are not strictly true, and some of which may contradict one another. This is a liberating outlook, though care must be taken not to let it become too liberating.”

— Tom Nagel, The New York Review of Books

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Reviews of Lines of Descent

“One of the most brilliant and interesting thinkers in our contemporary moment trying to better understand one of the most brilliant and interesting thinkers in all of modern history—that would be a dramatic but not unreasonable way to describe and evoke the significance of Lines of Descent, Kwame Anthony Appiah’s latest book.”

— Chike Jeffers, Critical Philosophy of Race
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“We can only hope that in coming years the optimistic, inclusive, and flexible Du Bois that Appiah captures in this beautifully written, carefully argued book will be the one whose influence endures.”

— Luther Spoehr, History News Network
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“Appiah [argues] persuasively that the way to understand Du Bois is as a product of the German academic training of his young manhood.”

— Nicholas Lemann, The New York Review of Books
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Reviews of The Honor Code

“His book is a brilliant and sweeping reappraisal of the concept of honor, which he sees as an integral part of what Aristotle termed eudaimonia, often mistranslated as ‘happiness,’ but meaning a successful life, a flourishing life, the kind of good life that Aristotle saw as the basis of ethics.”

—David Brion Davis, The New York Review of Books
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The Honour Code is a narrative of human progress, and its account of ‘moral revolutions’ means that it is an optimistic book, despite the sometimes grim stories it has to tell.”
—Shakira Hussein, Inside Story: Current Affairs and Culture
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“… a reconsideration of the subject is very welcome..”
—Harvey Mansfield, The Times Literary Supplement
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“… the author … often achieves a Malcolm Gladwell-like balance between argument and storytelling. He stirs in spoonfuls of narrative honey to help his medicinal tea go down.”
—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
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“This is in so many ways a brilliant book. It is also a model of historically and politically informed moral reasoning, of how a professional philosopher can bring his particular skills to bear on a question of universal concern – and do so in an impressively lucid and accessible style without ever condescending to the reader or sacrificing intellectual rigour.”
Stephen Howe, The New Humanist
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“‘The Honor Code’ teaches the profession, as well as others, that injustices and other abuses, too often institutionalized and put up with as unavoidable attributes of human nature, can be got rid of. Praise to Professor Appiah for presenting that lesson so plausibly and so readably.”
Walter Barthold, The New York Law Journal
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“The moral challenges of our times are all surveyed in a fine pick for social issues collections at the high school to college level.”
Midwest Book Review read the full review »

“Uniquely cosmopolitan by birth and upbringing, [Appiah] has written extensively and intelligently about race, identity, Afrocentrism, history, colonialism and morality. He sounds an urbane and civilised note when discussing what are often raucous and rancorous issues. But the civilised note is quietly compelling, and never more so than in this latest book.”
Simon Blackburn, The Guardian read the full review »

“Appiah is one of the most relevant philosophers today. He writes about ethics in diverse modern societies, where it is often a challenge to find solid ground, let alone common ground. His work reveals the heart and sensitivity of a novelist …”
Jonathan Haidt, New York Times Sunday Book Review
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“Princeton philosophy professor Kwame Anthony Appiah’s new book takes on a topic most other writers in the US would shun: honor. The word makes Americans wary, in expectation of syrupy movies and fire-breathing politics. But in ‘The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen,’ Appiah reclaims the concept and reincarnates the word.”
Anastasia Hobbet, The Huffington Post read the full review »

“Wisely defined … [honor] is applied ethics, a standard and strategy for living as we should.”
Steven G. Kellman, The Chronicle of Higher Education
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“Appiah expertly limns the history of honor …”
—Michael Washburn, The Boston Globe
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“…  monstrously interesting and the exact reverse of all the stereotypes of academic overspecialization and who-cares-ism.”
—Matthew Yglesias,
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“…  presented in The Honor Code, Appiah’s historical case studies, though moving at breakneck speed, are energized, informed, and highly readable.”
—Ian Klaus, The Daily Beast
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“Reading [The Honor Code] is like attending a lecture by a lucid and ebullient professor who chuckles over his colorful anecdotes but is ultimately intent on making you think for yourself.”
—Paul Berman, Slate
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Review of “Obama, Professor President,” a BBC Radio Program presented by K A Appiah in January 2009

“What matters is that the sum of his background, upbringing and achievements have made him a formidable commentator, one I would listen to any time.”
Gillian Reynolds, The Daily Telegraph
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Reviews of Astra Taylor’s film Examined Life

“The elegant Kwame Anthony Appiah meanders through La Guardia Airport while weighing in on the definition of cosmopolitanism.(It has less to do with your choice of luggage than with a universal declaration of rights.)”
Joshua Rothkopf in Time Out New York
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“Appiah uses an empty airport as a backdrop to parse the difference—highly relevant to our last presidential election—between an open-minded cosmopolitan and a parochial universalist.”
J. Hoberman in The Village Voice
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Reviews of Experiments in Ethics

“Because he sees the quest for scientific knowledge as very much part of the philosophical tradition, Mr. Appiah warns not only against ‘baseless fears’ of the damage that experiments in ethics will do to ethics, but also against ‘exaggerated hopes’ that the rediscovery of such an approach will answer all our puzzles about ethics.”
Peter Singer,  The New York Sun
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“I wish every philosopher wrote like Appiah. ‘Experiments in Ethics’ is clear and accessible (and often very funny), and Appiah is generous when it comes to discussing the work of those he disagrees with.”
Paul Bloom, New York Times Book Review
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Excerpts of reviews of Experiments in Ethics can be found at the Harvard University Press website.
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Reviews of Cosmopolitanism

“In this inspiring meditation on global ethics, the eminent political philosopher Appiah poses old questions made urgent by globalization: What does it mean to be a citizen of the world?”
G. John Ikenberry,  Foreign Affairs
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“As Appiah elegantly puts it: ‘We enter every conversation–whether with neighbors or with strangers–without a promise of final agreement.’ We can enter into the moral worlds of others and come to see that we partake in a common humanity without ever converging on a shared morality.”
John Gray The Nation
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” … Appiah makes the case for a resurgent cosmopolitan ethos that navigates between the relativism of hardcore multiculturalism and the arrogant colonialism of some forms of liberal rationalism.”
Julian Sanchez,  Reason Magazine
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Reviews of The Ethics of Identity

“For all of Appiah’s philosophic precision, his writing often resembles … that of Oscar Wilde–to my mind, the finest prose stylist of the 19th century, and an underappreciated thinker.”
Jonathan Freedman in the New York Times Book Review
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“Nobody is better placed than Anthony Appiah to make the case for rooted cosmopolitanism.”
Alan Ryan in the New York Review of Books
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“It is hard to know what to admire most about this book: the urbane elegance of Appiah’s prose, the reach of his knowledge, or the sheer philosophical sharpness of his analysis.”
Carl Elliott in American Prospect
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