This paper presents an account of how human spontaneous embryonic chimeras are formed. On the prevalent view in the philosophical literature, it is said that chimeras are the product of two embryos that fuse to form a new third embryo. We call this version of fusion synthesis. In contrast to synthesis, we present an alternative mechanism for chimera formation called incorporation, wherein one embryo incorporates the cells of a second embryo into its body. We argue that the incorporation thesis explains other types of chimera formation, which are better understood, and is more consistent than synthesis with what is known about embryological development. Incorporation also has different implications than synthesis and so avoids the philosophical puzzles that are often said to accompany embryonic chimera formation—puzzles which pose problems to the human embryo’s persistence from fertilization to the fetal stage of human development.
KeywordsHuman embryo Chimera Fusion
We would like to thank participants at the Romanell Center 2016 Summer Conference and the 2018 Spring Romanell Center Worshop, as well as G. Koch, for helpful contributions to this paper.
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