Article ID: CBB001320042

Weismann Versus Morgan Revisited: Clashing Interpretations on Animal Regeneration (2013)


This paper has three principal aims: first, through a detailed analysis of the hypotheses and assumptions underlying Weismann's and Morgan's disagreement on the nature of animal regeneration, it seeks to readdress the imbalance in coverage of their discussion, providing, at the same time, a fascinating case-study for those interested in general issues related to controversies in science. Second, contrary to Morgan's beliefs according to which Weismann employed a speculative and unempirical method of scientific investigation, the article shows that Weismann performed experiments, made observations and proposed 'undogmatic' theories open to refutation. Third, through the reconstruction of Weismann's and Morgan's disagreement, this study illustrates how biology, during the very late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, was undergoing important changes. I argue that this controversy clearly and convincingly demonstrates how some important epistemic assumptions became increasingly problematic for some members of the younger generations of biologists. At the end of my discussion I will also argue that Weismann and Morgan both had strong well-grounded arguments supporting their conclusions; for this reason I suggest a few factors ("taken-for-granted" beliefs or assumptions) that could explain why their disagreement was doomed to remain unresolved. In particular, I will analyze their diverse explicative interests, their different theoretical concerns and their distinct use of the available evidence.[PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

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Authors & Contributors
Frezza, Giulia
Tamborini, Marco
Zottoli, Steven J.
Pereira Martins, Lilian Al-Chueyr
Churchill, F. B.
Vorms, Marion
Journal of the History of Biology
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Medicine Studies
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Harvard University Press
Palgrave Macmillan
McGill-Queen's University Press
University of Chicago
Discipline formation
Experimental biology
Morgan, Thomas Hunt
Weismann, August
Mary Jane Hogue
Hogben, Lancelot Thomas
Vries, Hugo Marie de
Uexküll, Jakob Johann von
Time Periods
20th century, early
19th century
20th century
United States
Great Britain
Moscow (Russia)
Society for Experimental Biology (Great Britain)
Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory
Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research
American Museum of Natural History, New York

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