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Karen Neander, Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies    editKaren Neander

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.      

Office Location: 201 West Duke Building, Durham, NC 27708
Office Phone: (919) 660-3050
Email Address: send me a message

Office Hours:
To make an appointment, email Neander at

Ph.D., La Trobe University (Australia), 1984
B.A., La Trobe University (Australia), 1976

Philosophy of Mind
Philosophy of Biology
Cognitive Science

Research Interests:
Karen Neander (Ph.D. 1983, La Trobe University) joined the Duke faculty in 2006. Previously she was at the University of California, Davis, Johns Hopkins University and the Australian National University.

Neander is the author of numerous papers, including:

  • “Pictorial Representation: A Matter of Resemblance” in the British Journal of Aesthetics, Vol. 27, No. 3, Summer 1987, pp. 213-226. “Functions as Selected Effects: The Conceptual Analysts Defence” in Philosophy of Science, Vol. 58, No. 2, June 1991, pp. 169-184. Reprinted in Nature’s Purpose: analyses of function and design in biology, ed., by Colin Allen, Marc Becoff, and George Lauder, MIT Press (1997).
  • “The Teleological Notion of ‘Function’” in The Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 69, No. 4, December 1991, pp. 454-468. Reprinted in Function, Selection, and Design (The State University of New York Press) ed., by David Buller (1998).

  • “Misrepresenting and Malfunctioning” in Philosophical Studies, Vol. 79, No. 2, August 1995, pp. 109-141. Excerpted in Function, Selection, and Design (The State University of New York Press) ed., by David Buller (1998).

  • “Pruning the Tree of Life” in British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 46, pp. 59-80, March 1995.

  • “Swampman Meets Swampcow” in Mind & Language, Vol. 11, No. 1, March 1996, pp. 118-129.

  • “The Division of Phenomenal Labor: A Problem for Representational Theories of Consciousness” in Philosophical Perspectives, 12: Language, Mind and Ontology, A Supplement to NOUS, edited by James E. Tomberlin (Blackwells, 1998), pp. 411-434.

  • “Fitness and the Fate of Unicorns” in Biology Meets Psychology: Philosophical Essays, edited by Valerie Hardcastle (Bradford, MIT Press; Cambridge, Mass: 1999) 3-26.

  • “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).

  • “Content for Cognitive Science” in Teleosemantics, edited by David Papineau and Gary McDonald (2005, Oxford University Press).

  • Teaching (Spring 2016):
    • PHIL 701S.01, Special fields in phil (sem) Synopsis
      West Duke 204, Tu 01:40 PM-03:10 PM
    • PHIL 797S.01, Dissertation seminar Synopsis
      West Duke 204, F 07:30 PM-10:00 PM

    Recent Publications   (More Publications)
    • K Neander. "Biological Functions." manualRoutledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  (December, 2013) 2013. 
    • K Neander and A Rosenberg. "SOLVING THE CIRCULARITY PROBLEM FOR FUNCTIONS: A RESPONSE TO NANAY." JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY 109.10 (October, 2012): 613-622. [Gateway.cgi]
    • Karen Neander & Alex Rosenberg. "Solving the Circularity Problem for Functions." Journal of Philosophy (September, 2012).  [abs]
    • KL Neander. "Toward an Informational Teleosemantics." manualMillikan and Her Critics (2012): 21-41.  [abs]
    • KL Neander. ""Teleological theories of mental content"." manualStanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  (December, 2011) December, 2011.

    Conferences Organized
    • Dissertation Assessment, University of Girona, Spain. December 4, 2013, December 2013  

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