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Individuation, Process, and Scientific Practices$
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Otávio Bueno, Ruey-Lin Chen, and Melinda Bonnie Fagan

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190636814

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190636814.001.0001

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Individuation, Individuality, and Experimental Practice in Developmental Biology

Individuation, Individuality, and Experimental Practice in Developmental Biology

(p.165) 8 Individuation, Individuality, and Experimental Practice in Developmental Biology
Individuation, Process, and Scientific Practices

Alan C. Love

Oxford University Press

Philosophical analyses of individuals in biology have focused on theories of individuality that derive from evolutionary theory, understood as a fundamental framework that governs all of biology. Less attention has been given to how individuals are determined in experimental practice. The author uses the problem agenda of growth in developmental biology to argue that individuation practices are guided by structured problems, which leads to variable and divergent conceptualizations of what qualifies as an individual. The result is a pluralist perspective on biological individuality in which different kinds of individuals are counted, compared, detected, or tracked in practice. The problem-relative nature of individuation dissolves the so-called problem of biological individuality and captures more accurately how biologists engage in successful practices that contribute to the manipulation, prediction, and explanation of biological individuals.

Keywords:   biological individuality, developmental biology, experiment, evolutionary theory, growth, individuation, pluralism, problem agenda, scientific practice, tracking

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