How Theories Became Knowledge: Morgan's Chromosome Theory of Heredity in America and Britain [Book Review]

Journal of the History of Biology 35 (3):471-535 (2002)
T. H. Morgan, A. H. Sturtevant, H. J. Muller and C. B. Bridges published their comprehensive treatise "The Mechanism of Mendelian Heredity" in 1915. By 1920 Morgan 's "Chromosome Theory of Heredity" was generally accepted by geneticists in the United States, and by British geneticists by 1925. By 1930 it had been incorporated into most general biology, botany, and zoology textbooks as established knowledge. In this paper, I examine the reasons why it was accepted as part of a series of comparative studies of theory-acceptance in the sciences. In this context it is of interest to look at the persuasiveness of confirmed novel predictions, a factor often regarded by philosophers of science as the most important way to justify a theory. Here it turns out to play a role in the decision of some geneticists to accept the theory, but is generally less important than the CTH's ability to explain Mendelian inheritance, sex-linked inheritance, non-disjunction, and the connection between linkage groups and the number of chromosome pairs; in other words, to establish a firm connection between genetics and cytology. It is remarkable that geneticists were willing to accept the CTH as applicable to all organisms at a time when it had been confirmed only for Drosophila. The construction of maps showing the location on the chromosomes of genes for specific characters was especially convincing for non-geneticists
Keywords chromosomes  cytology  genetics  linkage groups  nondisjunction  predictions  reception of theories  T. H. Morgan  William Bateson
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 22,570
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Stephen G. Brush (2007). Predictivism and the Periodic Table. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 38 (1):256-259.
Fiona Alice Miller (2006). ‘Your True and Proper Gender’: The Barr Body as a Good Enough Science of Sex. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 37 (3):459-483.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Marga Vicedo (1990). The Chromosome Theory of Mendelian Inheritance: Explanation and Realism in Theory Construction. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1990:179 - 191.
Robert Batterman (1992). Quantum Chaos and Semiclassical Mechanics. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1992:50-65.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

15 ( #263,273 of 1,938,528 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #288,361 of 1,938,528 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.