I've been to two workshops now at which the theory of theory-making is vigorously discussed. It seems clear that even practicing scientists don't quite know how to define what makes something a "rule of life" or a "theoretical framework for neuroscience"-- myself included.
As such, I asked a philosopher at the recent Mathematical Biosciences Institute summit at Ohio State University to tell me how philosophers of science would define a theory. He gave me six characteristics of a theory:
Update: check out this paper about a theory of theories that I'm a co-author on!