What should I ask Kwame Anthony Appiah?

I will be doing a Conversations with Tyler with him, if you need it here is some background information.  So what should I ask?


What agricultural subsidies are available for sheep farmers?

Meat harvesting or just wool?

Part of an agricultural co-op? If yes, what are the benefits?

Ask him if he thinks abortion of a viable fetus is murder.

His thoughts on Riccardo Manzotti's spread mind theory.

His thoughts on why African elites have continued to struggle to overcome the negative effects of ethno-linguistic fractionalization; and what that means for future distributive politics in wealthy countries that are increasingly becoming more diverse.

How should countries honor and celebrate diversity, but without giving institutional reinforcements to identity cleavages?

now we are really confused!
IF as the fella says
"Postmodern culture is the culture in which all postmodernisms operate, sometimes in synergy, sometimes in competition; and because contemporary culture is, in a certain sense to which I shall return, transnational, postmodern culture is global"
what is the difference between culture and postmodern culture?
we think they are the same thang!

isn't the above the sorta sentence you would expect to hear while
ur quarantined with measles on a scientology ship off the coast of curacao?
does this look like measles?

If you re-run the Simon-Ehrlich bet, resource scarcity has increased rather than decreased since the late 90s-00s, around the time we hit "peak globalization". It seems cosmopolitanism calls for more and more globalization. How does increasing technological progress fit into his thinking? Can we have more globalization without improved technology?

The late 1990's were a time of low commodity prices but Simon's bet with Ehrlich was made when prices were high in the early 1980's. Simon's view, which turned out to be correct, was that this was due to the commodity cycle, Ehrlich's view, which was wrong, was that the high prices were the result of scarcity.

Simon knew about the existence of the commodity cycle and would certainly expect that when prices were at the bottom of the cycle they would go up. So it is pretty stupid to re-run the bet using bottom of the cycle prices. Neither Simon nor Ehrlich would have made their bet in late 1990's.

whats the difference between postmodern bullshit and marxism?
it looks like they are the same

I really liked his book. I remember him moderating a panel discussion at NYU on diversity in academia. Jonathan Haidt argued along the lines of his recent book (Coddling the Mind). I wonder what Appiah's take on Sullivan at Harvard and other cases is. Are they overblown?

Not your best effort. I’m sure there will be a farm subsidy post or comment from anon/shrug/bear that this would have worked better alongside. By itself just seems needy. Don’t lower your standards just to do it.

It is not that simple. President Captain Bolsonaro is visiting America to strengthen the ties between Brazil and the United States. Yet, failed, corrupt de Blasio and failed, sad farmer criticize Brazil.

Is not General Secretary Xi's shèhuì xìnyòng tǐxì social credit system the best example of operationalized cosmopolitanism?

Adam Smith famously wrote "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest." Why is this bad? Does cosmopolitanism preach that people who agree with Voltaire's Candide “that we must take care of our garden” are evil for not hewing to grander designs?

Why is valuing citizenship necessarily incompatible with having an interest in and knowledge of other peoples? Would you be surprised to learn that many Trump supporters do indeed regularly watch movies with subtitles?

Can they read? They must be over (American) average.

could be hearing loss!

Why not both?

Even better would be both at the same time.

If cosmopolitanism is such a great idea, why the *resurgence* of nationalism?

Can you show the extent there has been a resurgence in nationalism in the US or Europe?

On a scale of 1 to 10, Italians scored the highest on nationalism among Western European countries with a 4, and 40% scored between 5 and 10.

Italy 4, 40% scored 5 to 10
U.K. 3, 20% scored 5 to 10
Germany 3, 25%
Spain 3, 15%
France 2.5, 20%
Sweden 1, 10%


Will thumos, aka what Plato called "spiritedness," inevitably prevent cosmopolitanism from developing among anyone except maybe the elite?

Also, how (if at all) has he been influenced by David Hume? By Wittgenstein? By virtue theory? I've noticed elements of these thinkers in his works, and I guess I'm wondering how he would position himself in the philosophical canon.

Ask him if his position on "identity politics" in the US is closer to Mark Lilla or Matt Yglesias

A question on ethics - his grandfather Stafford Cripps gifted the Soviets with the UK's jet engine technology in 1947 which allowed them to create the Mig jet fighter which caused the US all sorts of problems in the Korean war. This probably allowed North Korea to survive as a separate political entity, with all the resulting horrors that this regime has perpetuated including some pretty severe famines. Is there an argument that as Cripp's grandson he owes reparations to the North Koreans similar to the slavery reparations arguments in the US.


Appiah's career has benefited from his being black, but he's also the grandson of Sir Stafford Cripps, Chancellor of the Exchequer to His Majesty King George VI.

I presume he has some interesting things to say regarding his own lineage (which was privileged as well on his African side) and what that implies for the concept of "privilege," but interviewers seldom seem to bring up this human interest angle with him.

Should there be more diversity in the philosophy profession. If so, what are some changes to the way we do things which would be conducive to that end.

Is the hyperconcentration of cultural achievements in a small percentage of highly capitalized museums something that should be of concern to cosmopolitans?

I enjoyed his new book on identity.

What does he think of the self-designation ‘person of colour’ as a unit of identity? Here in Australia I hear it used by everyone from Aboriginal people to otherwise extremely privileged Singaporeans and South Asian Brahmins. Is skin colour (‘whiteness’) really that legitimate as a vector of identity?

Push him on race eliminativism. I want a vision of a future that pushes back on the essential character of race, ethnicity, etc....practically how does it look and what is lost?

I loved "The Lies that Bind," and its exposing the "error.... of supposing that at the core of each identity there is some deep similarity that binds people of that identity together. " But while he demolishes the idea with respect to race, nation, class, and religion, I wonder if there's a new exception in politics. I'm thinking of the research on an emerging connection between personality and politics in modern democracies. It's discussed at length in Weiler & Heatherington's "Prius or Pickup?" and in Johnston, Lavine, and Federicos' "Open Versus Closed: Personality, Identity, and the Politics of Redistribution" - the work Will Wilkinson has been exploring lately. The gist: approx 35% of the population that scores high in the personality factor called "conscientiousness" AND low in "openness" are increasingly geographically sorted, because they are more likely to remain in the low-density areas (rural) they come from, while people who are high in openness tend to move to densely packed areas, i.e., urban - and these types are also increasingly represented by one of the two main parties. In the US, the "closed" AND "open" personalities used to be distributed evenly in both parties, but now, the former are far more likely to be represented by ex-urban GOP, while the "high in openness" types are much more likely to move to the city and become urban Democrats. These personality differences not only reflect but also shape the rhetoric and politics of current parties. SO... assuming this research program turns out to be correct, would it be a novel example of what might reasonably be called an "essence" (these personality differences are partly hereditary) that does relates to an identity (in this case, a political one)?

Ask him
1 if Africa and Asia have a philosophical heritage as rich as that of the western civilisation
2 whether he thinks some cultures can be considered more developed or richer than other cultures
3 how come to this day the best books of any discipline are produced in the west. Even thinkers from other societies seem to be more productive in western institutions. For example most of the outstanding Indian origin economists like Bhagwati, Sen, Partha Dasgupta and Raghuram Rajan publish their best work working in western institutions . Is this because of better funding or the cultural ethos of the west which promotes intellectual excellence

Eric S. Raymond has advanced the claim that dueling declined because the deadliness of firearms increased, hence making dueling more costly:


What validity do you think this claim has?

Perhaps his thoughts on pan-Africanism in the 21st century, especially the lack of African leaders like Nkrumah and Nyerere who had a vision for the continent. Does it have a future? Will there ever be bottom-up support for continental unification?

Ask about cultural appropriation

Really nice tips a must read liked his book. I remember him moderating a panel discussion at NYU on diversity in academia. Jonathan Haidt argued along the lines of his recent book.

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