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Towards a Theory of Development$
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Alessandro Minelli and Thomas Pradeu

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199671427

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199671427.001.0001

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Regenerating theories in developmental biology

Regenerating theories in developmental biology

(p.15) Chapter 2 Regenerating theories in developmental biology
Towards a Theory of Development

Thomas Pradeu

Oxford University Press

The view that developmental biology does offer theories is defended in this chapter, on the basis of three main arguments. Firstly, several other biological fields routinely formulate theories, and these fields do not seem to possess any characteristic that developmental biology would lack. Secondly, embryology and developmental biology have offered theories in the past. Thirdly, several developmental biologists (admittedly not numerous, but often among the most influential ones) have insisted on the role of theories in their field and have themselves formulated theories. The definition of a ‘theory’ as a structured set of testable explanatory and predictive hypotheses makes this notion widely applicable to current biological fields, and in particular it makes possible to speak of developmental theories. This chapter analyses some examples of such theories in recent developmental biology, and suggests some avenues for the further construction of developmental theories and their articulation into a growingly unifying picture of developmental processes.

Keywords:   developmental biology, embryology, theory

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