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Melinda Bonnie Fagan [13]Melinda B. Fagan [8]
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Profile: Melinda Bonnie Fagan (University of Utah)
  1.  15
    Melinda Bonnie Fagan (2012). The Joint Account of Mechanistic Explanation. Philosophy of Science 79 (4):448-472.
  2.  72
    Melinda Bonnie Fagan (2011). Is There Collective Scientific Knowledge? Arguments From Explanation. Philosophical Quarterly 61 (243):247-269.
    If there is collective scientific knowledge, then at least some scientific groups have beliefs over and above the personal beliefs of their members. Gilbert's plural-subjects theory makes precise the notion of ‘over and above’ here. Some philosophers have used plural-subjects theory to argue that philosophical, historical and sociological studies of science should take account of collective beliefs of scientific groups. Their claims rest on the premise that our best explanations of scientific change include these collective beliefs. I argue that Gilbert's (...)
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  3.  11
    Melinda Bonnie Fagan (2010). Stems and Standards: Social Interaction in the Search for Blood Stem Cells. Journal of the History of Biology 43 (1):67 - 109.
    This essay examines the role of social interactions in the search for blood stem cells, in a recent episode of biomedical research. Linked to mid-20th century cell biology, genetics and radiation research, the search for blood stem cells coalesced in the 1960s and took a developmental turn in the late 1980s, with significant ramifications for immunology, stem cell and cancer biology. Like much contemporary biomedical research, this line of inquiry exhibits a complex social structure and includes several prominent scientific successes, (...)
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  4.  5
    Melinda B. Fagan, Crucial Stem Cell Experiments? Stem Cells, Uncertainty, and Single-Cell Experiments.
    I have previously argued that stem cell experiments cannot demonstrate that a single cell is a stem cell. Laplane and others dispute this claim, citing experiments that identify stem cells at the single-cell level. This paper rebuts the counterexample, arguing that the alleged ‘crucial stem cell experiments’ do not measure self-renewal for a single cell, do not establish a single cell’s differentiation potential, and, if interpreted as providing results about single cells, fall into epistemic circularity. I then discuss the source (...)
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  5.  9
    Melinda Bonnie Fagan (2015). Collaborative Explanation and Biological Mechanisms. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 52:67-78.
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  6.  11
    Melinda B. Fagan (2007). The Search for the Hematopoietic Stem Cell: Social Interaction and Epistemic Success in Immunology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 38 (1):217-237.
    Epistemology of science is currently polarized. Descriptive accounts of the social aspects of science coexist uneasily with normative accounts of scientific knowledge. This tension leads students of science to privilege one of these important aspects over the other. I use an episode of recent immunology research to develop an integrative account of scientific inquiry that resolves the tension between sociality and epistemic success. The search for the hematopoietic stem cell by members of Irving Weissman’s laboratory at Stanford University Medical Center (...)
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  7.  32
    Melinda B. Fagan (2009). Fleck and the Social Constitution of Scientific Objectivity. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 40 (4):272-285.
    Ludwik Fleck’s theory of thought-styles has been hailed as a pioneer of constructivist science studies and sociology of scientific knowledge. But this consensus ignores an important feature of Fleck’s epistemology. At the core of his account is the ideal of ‘objective truth, clarity, and accuracy’. I begin with Fleck’s account of modern natural science, locating the ideal of scientific objectivity within his general social epistemology. I then draw on Fleck’s view of scientific objectivity to improve upon reflexive accounts of the (...)
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  8.  32
    Melinda B. Fagan (2011). Social Experiments in Stem Cell Biology. Perspectives on Science 19 (3):235-262.
    Stem cell biology is driven by experiment. Its major achievements are striking experimental productions: "immortal" human cell lines from spare embryos (Thomson et al. 1998); embryo-like cells from "reprogrammed" adult skin cells (Takahashi and Yamanaka 2006); muscle, blood and nerve tissue generated from stem cells in culture (Lanza et al. 2009, and references therein). Well-confirmed theories are not so prominent, though stem cell biologists do propose and test hypotheses at a profligate rate. 1 This paper aims to characterize the role (...)
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  9.  23
    Melinda Bonnie Fagan (2013). Philosophy of Stem Cell Biology – an Introduction. Philosophy Compass 8 (12):1147-1158.
    This review surveys three central issues in philosophy of stem cell biology: the nature of stem cells, stem cell experiments, and explanations of stem cell capacities. First, I argue that the fundamental question ‘what is a stem cell?’ has no single substantive answer. Instead, the core idea is explicated via an abstract model, which accounts for many features of stem cell experiments. The second part of this essay examines several of these features: uncertainty, model organisms, and manipulability. The results shed (...)
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  10.  15
    Melinda Bonnie Fagan (2013). The Stem Cell Uncertainty Principle. Philosophy of Science 80 (5):945-957.
    Stem cells are defined as having capacities for both self-renewal and differentiation. Many different entities satisfy this working definition. I show that this general stem cell concept is relative to a cell lineage, temporal duration, and characters of interest. Experiments specify values for these variables. So claims about stem cells must be understood in terms of experimental methods used to identify them. Furthermore, the stem cell concept imposes evidential constraints on interpretation of experimental results. From these constraints, it follows that (...)
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  11.  14
    Melinda Bonnie Fagan (2015). Crucial Stem Cell Experiments? Stem Cells, Uncertainty, and Single-Cell Experiments. Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 30 (2):183-205.
    I have previously argued that stem cell experiments cannot demonstrate that a single cell is a stem cell. Laplane and others dispute this claim, citing experiments that identify stem cells at the singlecell level. This paper rebuts the counterexample, arguing that the alleged ‘crucial stem cell experiments’ do not measure self-renewal for a single cell, do not establish a single cell’s differentiation potential, and, if interpreted as providing results about single cells, fall into epistemic circularity. I then discuss the source (...)
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  12.  70
    Melinda B. Fagan (2010). Social Construction Revisited: Epistemology and Scientific Practice. Philosophy of Science 77 (1):92-116.
    Philosophy of scientific practice aims to critically evaluate as well as describe scientific inquiry. Epistemic norms are required for such evaluation. Social constructivism is widely thought to oppose this critical project. I argue, however, that one variety of social constructivism, focused on epistemic justification, can be a basis for critical epistemology of scientific practice, while normative accounts that reject this variety of social constructivism cannot., idealized epistemic norms cannot ground effective critique of our practices. I propose a new approach, placing (...)
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  13. Melinda B. Fagan (2009). Fleck and the Social Constitution of Scientific Objectivity. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 40 (4):272-285.
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  14.  6
    Melinda Bonnie Fagan (2016). Stem Cells and Systems Models: Clashing Views of Explanation. Synthese 193 (3):873-907.
    This paper examines a case of failed interdisciplinary collaboration, between experimental stem cell research and theoretical systems biology. Recently, two groups of theoretical biologists have proposed dynamical systems models as a basis for understanding stem cells and their distinctive capacities. Experimental stem cell biologists, whose work focuses on manipulation of concrete cells, tissues and organisms, have largely ignored these proposals. I argue that ‘failure to communicate’ in this case is rooted in divergent views of explanation: the theoretically-inclined modelers are committed (...)
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  15.  31
    Melinda Bonnie Fagan (2009). Review of Heather E. Douglas, Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2009 (12).
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  16.  10
    Melinda Bonnie Fagan (2013). Human Experiments: Waves and Rifts in Synthetic Biology. [REVIEW] Metascience 22 (2):371-374.
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  17.  13
    Melinda B. Fagan (2007). Wallace, Darwin, and the Practice of Natural History. Journal of the History of Biology 40 (4):601 - 635.
    There is a pervasive contrast in the early natural history writings of the co-discoverers of natural selection, Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin. In his writings from South America and the Malay Archipelago (1848-1852, 1854-1862). Wallace consistently emphasized species and genera, and separated these descriptions from his rarer and briefer discussions of individual organisms. In contrast, Darwin's writings during the Beagle voyage (1831-1836) emphasized individual organisms, and mingled descriptions of individuals and groups. The contrast is explained by the different practices (...)
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  18.  6
    Melinda Bonnie Fagan (2011). Review of Steve Fuller, Science. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2011 (2).
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  19. Melinda Bonnie Fagan (forthcoming). Generative Models: Human Embryonic Stem Cells and Multiple Modeling Relations. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A.
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  20. Melinda Bonnie Fagan, Philosophy of Stem Cell Biology- an Introduction.
    This review surveys three central issues in philosophy of stem cell biology: the nature of stem cells, stem cell experiments, and explanations of stem cell capacities. First, I argue that the fundamental question “what is a stem cell?” has no single substantive answer. Instead, the core idea is explicated via an abstract model, which accounts for many features of stem cell experiments. The second part of this essay examines several of these features: uncertainty, model organisms, and manipulability. The results shed (...)
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  21. Melinda B. Fagan (2007). The Search for the Hematopoietic Stem Cell: Social Interaction and Epistemic Success in Immunology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 38 (1):217-237.
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