The Stem Cell Uncertainty Principle

Philosophy of Science 80 (5):945-957 (2013)
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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 claims about stem cell capacities are inherently uncertain. This result has important implications for stem cell research



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Melinda Bonnie Fagan
University of Utah

References found in this work

Explaining Science.Ronald Giere - 1991 - Noûs 25 (3):386-388.
Whose View of Life?: Embryos, Cloning and Stem Cells.Jane Maienschein - 2004 - Journal of the History of Biology 37 (1):186-187.
Explaining Science: A Cognitive Approach. [REVIEW]Jeffrey S. Poland - 1988 - Philosophical Review 100 (4):653-656.
(Re)defining stem cells.Stanley Shostak - 2006 - Bioessays 28 (3):301-308.

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