Karen Neander

Karen Neander

Professor of Philosophy

Contact Information
210 West Duke Building, Durham, NC 27708
Duke Box 90743, Durham, NC 27708-0743
(919) 660-3050


Neander is Professor of Philosophy and Linguistics and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Philosophy at Duke.  She joined the department in 2006, after holding positions in other philosophy departments in Australia and the US, including the University of Sydney, the University of Adelaide and the Australian National University, where she was a Post-Doctorial Fellow and then a Research Fellow in RSSS.  Her (1984) PhD from La Trobe University discussed the concept of mental illness and the application of biological concepts of function and malfunction to disorders of the mind.  Since then her work has primarily been in philosophy of mind, philosophy of biology and the conceptual foundations of cognitive science and neuroscience.  She has published numerous papers on the nature of functions and functional explanation, teleological and selectional explanation, mental representation and mental reference to content (especially teleosemantics), pictorial representation and consciousness.      


Education & Training

  • Ph.D., La Trobe University (Australia) 1984

  • B.A., La Trobe University (Australia) 1976

Neander, K. ““Naturalistic Theories of Reference”.” In The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Language, edited by Michael Devitt and Richard Hanley, 374–91. Basil Blackwell, 2006.

Neander, K. ““Biological Approaches to Mental Representation”.” In Handbook of the Philosophy of Science, Volume 3: The Philosophy of Biology, edited by Mohan Matthen and Christopher Stevens, 561–77. Elsevier, 2006.

Neander, K. L. “"Evolutionary Theory and Natural Selection".” In Encyclopdia of Philosophy. MacMillan, 2005.

Neander, K. L. “Warum Geschichte zahlt: Vier Theorien von Funktionen (Why History Matters: Four Theories of Function in Biology).” In Formen Der Erklaerung in Der Biologie, edited by M. Weingarten and Gerhard Schlosser. Verlag fuer Wissenschaft und Bildung, 2002.

Neander, K. L. “Types of Traits: The Importance of Functional Homologues.” In Functions: New Readings in the Philosophy of Psychology and Biology, edited by Andre Ariew, Robert Cummins, and Mark Perlman. Oxford University Press, 2002.

Neander, K. L. “Fitness and the Fate of Unicorns.” In Biology Meets Psychology: Philosophical Essays, edited by Valerie Hardcastle, 3–26. Bradford, MIT Press, 1999.

Neander, K. L. “MENTAL ILLNESS, concept of.” In Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward Craig and sub-edited by Frank Jackson. Routledge, 1998.

Neander, K. L. “Comments on Stich and Laurence.” In Prospects for Intentionality, edited by Karen Neander and Ian Ravenscroft, 120–24, 1993.


Neander, K. “The Function of Cognition: Godfrey-Smith's Environmental Complexity Thesis.” Biology and Philosophy 12, no. 4 (January 1, 1997): 567–80. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1006524203891. Full Text

Neander, K. “Dretske's innate modesty.” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74, no. 2 (December 1, 1996): 258–74. https://doi.org/10.1080/00048409612347241. Full Text

Neander, K. “Swampman Meets Swampcow.” Mind and Language 11, no. 1 (January 1, 1996): 118–29. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0017.1996.tb00036.x. Full Text

Neander, K. “Explaining complex adaptations: A reply to sober's 'reply to neander'.” British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 46, no. 4 (December 1, 1995): 583–87. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjps/46.4.583. Full Text

Neander, K. “Misrepresenting & malfunctioning.” Philosophical Studies 79, no. 2 (August 1, 1995): 109–41. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00989706. Full Text

Neander, K. “Pruning the tree of life.” British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 46, no. 1 (March 1, 1995): 59–80. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjps/46.1.59. Full Text

Neander, K. D., and H. J. Flohr. “The tautly stretched bedsheet as a trigger for decubitus ulcers.” Krankenpflege Journal 33, no. 3 (March 1, 1995): 65–67.

Neander, K. “The teleological notion of 'function.” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 69, no. 4 (December 1, 1991): 454–68. https://doi.org/10.1080/00048409112344881. Full Text

Neander, Karen. “Functions as Selected Effects: The Conceptual Analyst's Defense.” Philosophy of Science 58, no. 2 (June 1991): 168–84. https://doi.org/10.1086/289610. Full Text