Kim Sterelny

Professor School of History, Philosophy, Political Science & International Relations

Prof Kim Sterelny profile picture


BA PhD Sydney


Kim is an Australian in exile. In addition to philosophy, he spends his time eating curries, drinking red wine, snorkelling, bushwalking and birding.

He studied at Sydney University, and has taught philosophy at Sydney, ANU, Monash and La Trobe Universities in Australia, and at Simon Fraser, Caltech and the University of Maryland in America.

Kim now spends most of his time at the Philosophy Program, RSSS, Australian National University, but for the last few years and again this year he has taught a summer course at Victoria University of Wellington, and continues to supervise graduate students, through a mix of visits and e-mails.

Research areas

His main research interests are Philosophy of Biology, Philosophy of Psychology and Philosophy of Mind.

Selected publications

Kim is the author, with James Maclaurin, of What is Biodiversity (2008) and Thought in a Hostile World (Blackwell, 2003) (which won the 2004 Lakatos Prize). His Nicod-Prize monograph, The Evolved Apprentice, will be published by MIT in 2011. In the more distant past his publications include The Evolution of Agency and Other Essays and, with Paul Griffiths, Sex and Death: An Introduction to Philosophy of Biology.

He is the editor of Biology and Philosophy, the main specialist journal of the philosophy of biology, and with Rob Wilson, of the MIT Press series, Life and Mind.

Other recent publications include

“Memes Revisited” British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 57, 1, 145-165, 2006.

“The Perverse Primate” in Alan Grafen and Mark Ridley (eds) Richard Dawkins: How A Scientist Changed The Way We Think; OUP Press, 2006; pp 213-223.

“The Evolution and Evolvability of Culture” Mind and Language. 21, 2, pp 137-165, 2006

"Language, Modularity and Evolution". Graham Macdonald and David Papineau (eds) Teleosemantics; Oxford University Press, 2006, pp 23-41.

Folk Logic and Animal Rationality” Susan Hurley and Matthew Nudds (eds) Rational Animals? Oxford University Press, Oxford 2006 pp 291-312

“Seven Reasons (Not) To Neglect Niche Construction” (with Kevin Laland) to Evolution, 60, No. 9, pp. 1751–1762, 2006

"Cognitive Load and Human Decision, or, Three Ways of Rolling the Rock Up Hill". To appear in: Peter Carruthers, Steve Laurence and Steven Stich (eds) The Innate Mind: Culture and Cognition, Oxford University Press, 2006, pp 218-233

“Local Ecological Communities” Philosophy of Science, 72, 2, pp 216-231, 2006

“Social Intelligence, Human Intelligence and Niche Construction” Proceedings of the Royal Society, London, (Series B), 362, 1480, pp 719-730, 2007.

“SNAFUs: An Evolutionary Perspective” Biological Theory, Vol. 2, No. 3: 317–328, 2007.

“Macroevolution, Minimalism and the Radiation of the Animals” in: David Hull and Michael Ruse (eds) Cambridge Handbook to the Philosophy of Biology, Cambridge 2007, pp 182-210.

“ What Is Evolvability?” Mohan Matthen and Chris Stephens (eds) The Elsevier Handbook of the Philosophy of Biology, Elsevier, 2007, pp 163-178.

“Language and Niche Construction” in Ulrike Griebel & Kim Oller (eds) From Fixed Signals to Contextually Free Communication: The Evolution of Complex Communication in Animals and Humans, MIT Press, 2008, pp 215-232.

“Philosophy of Evolutionary Thought”. In: Michael Ruse and Joe Travis (eds) Evolution: The First Four Billion Years; Harvard University Press, pp 313-329. 2009.

“The Triumph of a Reasonable Man” . In Michael Bishop and Dominic Murphy (eds) Stich and his Critics, Blackwell, pp 152-166, 2009.

“Novelty, Plasticity and Niche Construction: The Influence of Phenotypic Variation on Evolution”. In Anouk Barberousse, Michel Morange and Thomas Pradeu (eds) Mapping the Future of Biology. Evolving Concepts and Theories, Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Springer; pp 93-110, 2009.

“Peacekeeping in the Culture Wars”. In Kevin Laland and Bennett Galef (eds) The Question of Animal Culture, Harvard University Press, pp 288-304, 2009.

“The Tale of the Finch: Adaptive Radiation and Behavioural Flexibility” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 365 1099-1109 (with Sabine Tebbich and Irmgard Teschke) 2010.

“Moral Nativism: A Sceptical Response” Mind and Language, 25, 3, 2010, pp 279-297.

“From Hominins to Humans: How Sapiens Became Behaviourally Modern” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, forthcoming.

“Rational Agency in Evolutionary Perspective” (with Ben Jeffares). In Tim O’Coonor (ed) Blackwell Companion to Action Theory, Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming pp 374-384.

“Evolvability Revisited”. In Brett Calcott and Kim Sterelny (edited) The Major Transitions Revisited; Vienna Series in Theoretical Biology, MIT Press, forthcoming.

Darwinism and its influences (with Ben Jeffares). To appear in Andrew Gardner, Mark Lake and Ulrike Sommer (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Archaeological Theory.