Comparing the Continuity Theory to Other Immunological Theories

Thomas Pradeu and Elizabeth Vitanza

in The Limits of the Self

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199775286
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932818 | DOI:
Comparing the Continuity Theory to Other Immunological Theories

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This chapter compares the continuity theory that I propose with the other theories available in today’s immunology, including the self-nonself theory, the systemic theory of the immune “network” (Jerne), the autopoiesis framework (Maturana, Varela, Coutinho), the self-organization theory (Cohen and Atlan), and the danger theory (Matzinger). I emphasize the aspects that the continuity theory borrowed or inherited from these theories, as well as the many aspects on which it differs from them. I show that some frameworks elaborated to understand the immune system are not genuine scientific theories, but rather mere “viewpoints” on immunity. I insist that no framework has, up to now, succeeded in taking into account the importance of both innate immunity and immune tolerance – two aspects that are at the center of the continuity theory.

Keywords: systemic theories; idiotypic network; autoimmunity; nervous system; language; autopoiesis; self-organization; danger; damage; antigen-presenting cells

Chapter.  10387 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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