Crucial stem cell experiments? Stem cells, uncertainty, and single-cell experiments

Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 30 (2):183 (2015)
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Abstract

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 of the dispute, locating it in differences between philosophical and experimental perspectives.

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Melinda Bonnie Fagan
University of Utah

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