We strudy 3D culture methods that reproduce in vitro mammary gland ductal morphogenesis. We are proposing a conceptual framework to understand morphogenetic events based on epistemologically sound biological principles instead of using only physical principles. More specifically, our theoretical framework is based on the principle that the default state of cells is proliferation with variation and motility. We emphasize the role played by the agency of cells embedded in a gel and the circularity that is relevant for the intended process, whereby cells act upon other cells and on matrix elements, and are subject to the agency of neighboring cells. This circularity strongly differs from classical linear causality. Finally, our approach opens up the study of causal determination to multilevel explanations rather than to reductive ones involving only molecules in general and genes in particular.