Kim Sterelny

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Kim Sterelny (born 1950) is an Australian philosopher and professor of philosophy in the Research School of Social Sciences at Australian National University and Victoria University of Wellington.[1] He is the winner of several international prizes in the philosophy of science, and was previously editor of Biology and Philosophy. He is also a member of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He is currently the First Vice President of the Division for Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science and Technology of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (2020–2023).[2]


Sterelny's principal area of research is in the philosophy of biology. He states "the development of evolutionary biology since 1858 is one of the great intellectual achievements of science."[3] Sterelny has also written extensively about the philosophy of psychology. He is the author of many important papers in these areas, including widely anthologised papers on group selection, meme theory and cultural evolution such as "Return of the Gene" (with Philip Kitcher), "Memes Revisited" and "The Evolution and Evolvability of Culture."

Together with his former student Paul Griffiths, in 1999, Sterelny published Sex and Death, a comprehensive treatment of problems and alternative positions in the philosophy of biology. This book incorporated a number of the positions developed in previous articles on the range of topics in the philosophy of biology. At certain points Sterelny and his coauthor differed (for example, on the Darwinian treatment of emotions and on the prospects for developmental systems theory).

In 2004 Sterelny's book Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition received the Lakatos Award[4] for a distinguished contribution to the philosophy of science. This book provides a Darwinian account of the nature and evolution of human cognitive capacities, and is an important alternative to nativist accounts familiar from evolutionary psychology. By combining an account of neural plasticity, group selection, and niche construction, Sterelny shows how much of the data on which nativist accounts rely can be accounted for without attributing a large number of genetically hardwired modules to the mind/brain. In 2008 Sterelny was awarded the Jean-Nicod Prize.[5] His lectures are published under the title, The Evolved Apprentice. These lectures build on the non-nativist Darwinian approach of Thought in a Hostile World, while providing a discussion of a great deal of recent work by other philosophers, biological anthropologists and ecologists, gene-culture co-evolution theorists, and evolutionary game theorists.

Awards and honors[edit]

In 2013, he was awarded an Australian Laureate Fellowship.[6] In 2004, he received the Lakatos Award for his book Thought in a Hostile World: The evolution of human cognition.[7]



  1. ^ "Professor Kim Sterelny – ANU". Researchers. 10 August 2021. Retrieved 10 August 2021.
  2. ^ "DLMPST Website: Council 2020–2023". Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  3. ^ Sterelny, K (2009). "Philosophy of Evolutionary Thought". In Michael Ruse; Joseph Travis (eds.). Evolution: The First Four Billion Years. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. p. 313. ISBN 978-0-674-03175-3.
  4. ^ "Winner of the Lakatos Award 2004 announced". Archived from the original on 4 August 2012. Retrieved 3 August 2008.
  5. ^ "Kim STERELNY - Jean-Nicod Prize and Lectures 2008". Archived from the original on 14 July 2010. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  6. ^ "ARC project grant success". Australian National University. 11 July 2013. Archived from the original on 15 July 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  7. ^ "2004 Lakatos Award". Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method. 28 March 2005. Retrieved 26 January 2022.

External links[edit]

  • Kim Sterelny, Australian National University profile