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Developmental Biology is the study of organisms’ life cycles from single cell to complex reproducing and aging multi-cellular organisms. It endeavours to explain phenomena such as: cellular differentiation (e.g. neurons vs. liver cells) and cellular aging, the development of gross morphology and anatomical structures (e.g. body shape and organs -eyes and limbs-), and the development of an organism as an integrated part of an eco-system (e.g. phenotypic plasticity). The philosophically relevant points, in addition to broader philosophy of science inquiries (e.g. confirmation and explanation) are those that have to do with the ontological status of biological kinds and with inter-level relations, specifically the integration of developmental biology with evolutionary biology and to a lesser extent, with ecology. Keeping this is in mind the subcategories within Developmental Biology can be grouped into three main themes: evolution(Evolutionary-Developmental Biology, Developmental Constraints and Process Structuralism)ecology (Ecological Developmental Biology, Epigenetic Inheritance, Nature vs. Nurture and Innateness) and ontology (Developmental Modularity, Developmental System Theory and Process Structuralism).

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  1. Björn Blom & Stefan Morén (2011). Analysis of Generative Mechanisms. Journal of Critical Realism 10 (1):60-79.
    The focus of this article is the analysis of generative mechanisms, a basic concept and phenomenon within the metatheoretical perspective of critical realism. It is emphasized that research questions and methods, as well as the knowledge it is possible to attain, depend on the basic view – ontologically and epistemologically – regarding the phenomenon under scrutiny. A generative mechanism is described as a trans empirical but real existing entity, explaining why observable events occur. Mechanisms are mostly possible to grasp only (...)
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  2. Joachim W. Deitmer (2000). Glial Strategy for Metabolic Shuttling and Neuronal Function. Bioessays 22 (8):747-752.
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  3. Bruce Demple (1987). Adaptive Responses to Genotoxic Damage: Bacterial Strategies to Prevent ‐Mutation and Cell Death. Bioessays 6 (4):157-160.
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  4. Rob Denell (1987). Insect Developmental Genetics – Moving Beyond Drosophila. Bioessays 6 (2):77-79.
  5. Alessandro Dini (1987). Scienze della vita e filosofia nel Seicento e Settecento. [REVIEW] History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 9 (2):327 - 332.
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  6. S. M. Downes (1999). Ontogeny, Phylogeny, and Scientific Development. In V. Harcastle (ed.), Where Biology Meets Psychology. 273--285.
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  7. Hans Driesch (1937). Studien Zur Theorie der Organischen Formbildung. Acta Biotheoretica 3 (1):51-80.
    The concept of embryological “exactness” is introduced; it becomes rather complicated if a called interaction of embryological parts is in question. From the point of view of the biological mechanist “exactness” is ultimately founded upon a given material structure. The experiment is the only possible way to decide, whether the mechanistic view is right or not; mere description does not suffice here. The decision is in favor of so called vitalism. The “harmonious-equipotential system” implies “exactness”. The “genes” are not the (...)
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  8. Hans Driesch (1936). Zur Kritik Des „Holismus”. Acta Biotheoretica 1 (3):185-202.
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  9. François Duchesneau (1985). Embryologie au XVIII E Siècle: L'Interprétation de S. Roe. [REVIEW] History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 7 (2):321 - 327.
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  10. Catherine M. Duckett & John C. Gray (1995). Illuminating Plant Development. Bioessays 17 (2):101-103.
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  11. Thomas Eich (2008). Decision-Making Processes Among Contemporary ʻulamā: Islamic Embryology and the Discussion of Frozen Embryos. In Jonathan E. Brockopp & Thomas Eich (eds.), Muslim Medical Ethics: From Theory to Practice. University of South Carolina Press
  12. Michael Eisenbach & Ilan Tur‐Kaspa (1999). Do Human Eggs Attract Spermatozoa? Bioessays 21 (3):203-210.
  13. Richard P. Elinson (1989). Microtubules and Specification of the Dorsoventral Axis in Frog Embryos. Bioessays 11 (5):124-127.
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  14. Claus Emmeche (2002). The Chicken and the Orphean Egg: On the Function of Meaning and the Meaning of Function. Σημιοτκή-Sign Systems Studies 1 (1):15-32.
    A central aspect of the relation between biosemiotics and biology is investigated by asking: Is a biological concept of function intrinsically related to a biosemiotic concept of sign action, and vice versa? A biological notion of function (as some process or part that serves some purpose in the context of maintenance and reproduction of the whole organism) is discussed in the light of the attempt to provide an understanding of life processes as being of a semiotic nature, i.e., constituted by (...)
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  15. Lorenz Engell (2011). Ontogenetic Machinery. Radical Philosophy 169:10.
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  16. Raphael Falk (2004). Long Live the Genome! So Should the Gene. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 26 (1):105 - 121.
    Developments in the sequencing of whole genomes and in simultaneously surveying many thousands of transcription and translation products of specific cells have ushered in a conceptual revolution in genetics that rationally introduces top-down, holistic analyses. This emphasized the futility of attempts to reduce genes to structurally discrete entities along the genome, and the need to return to Johannsen's definition of a gene as 'something' that refers to an invariant entity of inheritance and development. We may view genes either as generic (...)
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  17. Bernardino Fantini (2000). L'embryologie, la 'géographie chimique' de la cellule et la synthèse entre morphologie et chimie (1930-1950). History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 22 (3):353 - 380.
    Chemical embryology was born in 1931 with the publication of Chemical Embryology by Joseph Needham. In the following two decades it became an innovative research project aiming at the description of the construction of the embryological structure and differentiation in biochemical terms. This research programme produced a vast amount of experimental evidence and theories on the chemical dynamics of the embryo: particularly chemical characterization of the zygote and the developing embryo, the chemical exchanges between the nucleus and the cytoplasm, the (...)
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  18. Richard G. A. Faragher & David Kipling (1998). How Might Replicative Senescence Contribute to Human Ageing? Bioessays 20 (12):985-991.
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  19. Emmanuel Farge (2013). Mechano-Sensing in Embryonic Biochemical and Morphologic Patterning: Evolutionary Perspectives in the Emergence of Primary Organisms. [REVIEW] Biological Theory 8 (3):232-244.
    Embryogenesis involves biochemical patterning as well as mechanical morphogenetic movements, both regulated by the expression of the regulatory genes of development. The reciprocal interplay of morphogenetic movements with developmental gene expression is becoming an increasingly intense subject of investigation. The molecular processes through which differentiation patterning closely regulates the development of morphogenetic movements are today becoming well understood. Conversely, experimental evidence recently revealed the involvement of mechanical cues due to morphogenetic movements in activating mechano-transduction pathways that control both the differentiation (...)
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  20. Willy Feller (1940). On the Logistic Law of Growth and its Empirical Verifications in Biology. Acta Biotheoretica 5 (2):51-66.
    Es wird untersucht, wie weit den empirischen Bestätigungen der logistischen Differentialgleichung als Ausdruck eines biologischen Wachstumsgesetzes tatsächliche Beweiskraft zukommt. Durch eine Reihe praktischer Ausgleichungen wurde geprüft, welche Güte der Annäherung im Durchschnitt zu erwarten ist, wenn durch eine beliebige andere dreiparametrige ScharS-förmiger Kurven ersetzt wird und ). Es zeigt sich überraschenderweise, dass sich die logistische Kurve keineswegs besonders gut dem biologischen Material anpasst, und dass letzteres auch mit ganz anderen Hypothesen vereinbar wäre. Ähnliches gilt auch von den Experimenten vonGause bewiesen (...)
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  21. Gary Felsenfeld (2014). The Evolution of Epigenetics. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 57 (1):132-148.
    Since the early days of embryology, a central puzzle for biologists has been how a fertilized egg can execute a clearly defined and reproducible program that leads ultimately to a complex organism. It was clear that all of the information necessary to create the adult must already reside in the zygote, but how that information was translated into a complex organism was obscure. Even as recently as the late 1940s, the molecular mechanisms associated with early development were unknown and, in (...)
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  22. John R. Finnerty (2005). Did Internal Transport, Rather Than Directed Locomotion, Favor the Evolution of Bilateral Symmetry in Animals? Bioessays 27 (11):1174-1180.
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  23. Jean-Louis Fischer & Julian Smith (1984). French Embryology and the « Mechanics of Development » From 1887 to 1910: L. Chabry, Y. Delage & E. Bataillon. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 6 (1):25 - 39.
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  24. Alan Fogel, Maria C. D. P. Lyra & Jaan Valsiner (eds.) (1997). Dynamics and Indeterminism in Developmental and Social Processes. L. Erlbaum.
    One of the most profound insights of the dynamic systems perspective is that new structures resulting from the developmental process do not need to be planned in advance, nor is it necessary to have these structures represented in genetic or neurological templates prior to their emergence. Rather, new structures can emerge as components of the individual and the environment self-organize; that is, as they mutually constrain each other's actions, new patterns and structures may arise. This theoretical possibility brings into (...)
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  25. Loïc Forest & Jacques Demongeot (2008). A General Formalism for Tissue Morphogenesis Based on Cellular Dynamics and Control System Interactions. Acta Biotheoretica 56 (1):51-74.
    Morphogenesis is a key process in developmental biology. An important issue is the understanding of the generation of shape and cellular organisation in tissues. Despite of their great diversity, morphogenetic processes share common features. This work is an attempt to describe this diversity using the same formalism based on a cellular description. Tissue is seen as a multi-cellular system whose behaviour is the result of all constitutive cells dynamics. Morphogenesis is then considered as a spatiotemporal organization of cells activities. We (...)
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  26. Loïc Forest, Jaime San Martín, Fernando Padilla, Fabrice Chassat, Françoise Giroud & Jacques Demongeot (2004). Morphogenetic Processes: Application to Cambial Growth Dynamics. Acta Biotheoretica 52 (4):415-438.
    Both the physiological and the pathological morphogenetic processes that we can meet in embryogenesis, neogenesis and degenerative dysgenesis present common features: they are ruled by three different kinds of mechanisms, one related to cell migration, the second to cell differentiation and the third to cell proliferation. We deal here with an application to the cambial growth which essentially involves the third type of mechanism.Woody plants produce secondary tissue (secondary xylem and phloem) from a meristematic tissue called vascular cambium, responsible for (...)
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  27. S. M. Frisch (1995). Development, Databases and the Internet. Bioessays 17:1002-1002.
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  28. Rebecca F. Furlong (2008). The 7th UK Evolutionary Developmental Biology Meeting, 7th August 2007. Bioessays 30 (1):90-91.
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  29. Frietson Galis & Johan A. J. Metz (2003). Anti‐Cancer Selection as a Source of Developmental and Evolutionary Constraints. Bioessays 25 (11):1035-1039.
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  30. C. Galperin (1999). [From experimental embryology to a genetics of development: from Hans Spemann to Antonio Garcia-Bellido]. Revue d'Histoire des Sciences 53 (3-4):581-616.
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  31. Charles Galperin (1998). From Cell Lineage to Developmental Genetics. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 20 (3):301 - 350.
    One of the bases of developmental genetics resides in the alliance of clonal analysis and genetic analysis. But the study of cell lineage — cells which have their genealogical relationship — and the study of the cellular labelled progeny, have their own history. We have tried to follow it since its foundation with C.O. Whitman (1878) and E.B. Wilson (1892). A.H. Sturtevant (1929) and C. Stern (1936) the first tools to study the 'cell lineage' in Drosophila. We stress the contribution (...)
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  32. Pio Garcia, Beyond the Dichotomy in Vivo - in Vitro: In Silico.
    From the beginnings of the biochemistry as discipline, the dichotomy between in vivo- in vitro conditions has been in the center of their methodological discussions. With the growing influence of computer simulations - sometimes called "in silico" conditions-, a new methodological problem is added to biochemistry. However, "simulation" could be seen as a core concept that is in fact used in the in vivo - in vitro dichotomy. In this sense, in silico dimension could be considered as a natural extension (...)
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  33. Walter Garstang (1931). Embryology and Evolution. The Eugenics Review 23 (1):94.
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  34. Mohammed Ghaly (2014). Pre‐Modern Islamic Medical Ethics and Graeco‐Islamic‐Jewish Embryology. Bioethics 28 (2):49-58.
    This article examines the, hitherto comparatively unexplored, reception of Greek embryology by medieval Muslim jurists. The article elaborates on the views attributed to Hippocrates (d. ca. 375 BC), which received attention from both Muslim physicians, such as Avicenna (d. 1037), and their Jewish peers living in the Muslim world including Ibn Jumayʽ (d. ca. 1198) and Moses Maimonides (d. 1204). The religio-ethical implications of these Graeco-Islamic-Jewish embryological views were fathomed out by the two medieval Muslim jurists Shihāb al-Dīn al-Qarāfī (d. (...)
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  35. M. Ghiselin (2002). Christine Hertler, Morphologische Methoden in der Evolutionsforschung. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 23 (2):318-318.
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  36. Scott F. Gilbert (2011). Expanding the Temporal Dimensions of Developmental Biology: The Role of Environmental Agents in Establishing Adult-Onset Phenotypes. Biological Theory 6 (1):65-72.
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  37. Scott F. Gilbert (2003). Evo-Devo, Devo-Evo, and Devgen-Popgen. Biology and Philosophy 18 (2):347-352.
  38. Scott F. Gilbert (1978). The Embryological Origins of the Gene Theory. Journal of the History of Biology 11 (2):307 - 351.
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  39. Scott F. Gilbert & Rebecca Howes-Mischel (2004). 'Show Me Your Original Face Before You Were Born': The Convergence of Public Fetuses and Sacred DNA. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 26 (3/4):377 - 479.
    Embryology is an intensely visual field, and it has provided the public with images of human embryos and fetuses. The responses to these images can be extremely powerful and personal, and the images (as well as our reactions to them) are conditioned by social and political agendas. The image of the 'autonomous fetus' abstracts the fetus from the mother, the womb, and from all social contexts, thereby emphasizing 'individuality'. The image of 'sacred DNA' emphasizes DNA as the unmoved mover, the (...)
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  40. Peter Godfrey-Smith & James Griesemer (2000). Philosophy of Biology, Psychology, and Neuroscience-The Developmental Systems Perspective in the Philosophy of Biology-Development, Culture, and the Units of Inheritance. Philosophy of Science 67 (3).
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  41. Alfonso Gómez-Lobo (2007). A Note on Metaphysics and Embryology. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 28 (4):331-335.
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  42. B. Goodwin (1985). What Are the Causes of Morphology. Bioessays 5:32-36.
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  43. Richard Gordon (2009). Google Embryo for Building Quantitative Understanding of an Embryo As It Builds Itself. II. Progress Toward an Embryo Surface Microscope. Biological Theory 4 (4):396-412.
    Embryos start out as tiny globes, on which many important events occur, including cell divisions, shape changes and changes of neighbors, waves of contraction and expansion, motion of cell sheets, extension of filopodia, shearing of cell connections, and differentiation and morphogenesis of tissues such as skin and brain. I propose to build a robotic microscope that would enable a new way to look at embryos: Google Embryo. This is akin to sending a space probe to Jupiter and its moons, sending (...)
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  44. Richard Gordon (2009). Google Embryo for Building Quantitative Understanding of an Embryo As It Builds Itself. I. Lessons From Ganymede and Google Earth. Biological Theory 4 (4):390-395.
    Google Earth allows us to obtain a new vision of the planet we live on, with an ability to zoom in from space to ground level detail at any point on Earth. As it is only recently that we have been able to look toward the Earth from space, we review instead the history of imaging of the Jupiter moon Ganymede, another globe, first seen by Galileo. Observations of Ganymede are mined for lessons on the importance and impact of improving (...)
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  45. Stephen Jay Gould (1992). Roots: Ontogeny and Phylogeny – Revisited and Reunited. Bioessays 14 (4):275-279.
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  46. Aubrey D. N. J. De Grey, John W. Baynes, David Berd, Christopher B. Heward, Graham Pawelec & Gregory Stock (2002). Commentary-Is Human Aging Still Mysterious Enough to Be Left Only to Scientists? Bioessays 24 (7):667-676.
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  47. Paul E. Griffiths (2005). Jason Scott Robert, Embryology, Epigenesis and Evolution: Taking Development Seriously Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 25 (3):213-215.
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  48. Paul E. Griffiths (2001). Genetic Information: A Metaphor in Search of a Theory. Philosophy of Science 68 (3):394-412.
    John Maynard Smith has defended against philosophical criticism the view that developmental biology is the study of the expression of information encoded in the genes by natural selection. However, like other naturalistic concepts of information, this ‘teleosemantic’ information applies to many non-genetic factors in development. Maynard Smith also fails to show that developmental biology is concerned with teleosemantic information. Some other ways to support Maynard Smith’s conclusion are considered. It is argued that on any definition of information the view that (...)
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  49. Paul E. Griffiths & Russell D. Cray (2004). The Developmental Systems Perspective. In Massimo Pigliucci & Katherine Preston (eds.), Phenotypic Integration: Studying the Ecology and Evolution of Complex Phenotypes. Oxford University Press 409.
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  50. Paul E. Griffiths & Russell D. Gray (2004). The Developmental Systems Perspective: Organism-Environment Systems as Units of Development and Evolution. In Massimo Pigliucci & Katherine Preston (eds.), Phenotypic Integration: Studying the Ecology and Evolution of Complex Phenotypes. Oxford University Press 409--431.
    Developmental systems theory is an attempt to sum up the ideas of a research tradition in developmental psychobiology that goes back at least to Daniel Lehrman’s work in the 1950s. It yields a representation of evolution that is quite capable of accommodating the traditional themes of natural selection and also the new results that are emerging from evolutionary developmental biology. But it adds something else - a framework for thinking about development and evolution without the distorting dichotomization (...)
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