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

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THEORIA. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science, ISSN: 0495-4548, Vol: 30, Issue: 2, Page: 183-205

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Melinda Bonnie Fagan
UPV/EHU Press, Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea / Universidad del PaĆ­s Vasco
Arts and Humanities
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I have previously argued that stem cell experiments cannot demonstrate that a single cell is a stem cell (Fagan 2013a, b). 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 of the dispute, locating it in differences between philosophical and experimental perspectives.

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