Do new Ethical Issues Arise at Each Stage of Nanotechnological Development?

NanoEthics 6 (1):29-37 (2012)
The literature concerning ethical issues associated with nanotechnologies has become prolific. However, it has been claimed that ethical problems are only at stake with rather sophisticated nanotechnologies such as active nanostructures, integrated nanosystems and heterogeneous molecular nanosystems, whereas more basic nanotechnologies such as passive nanostructures mainly pose technical difficulties. In this paper I argue that fundamental ethical issues are already at stake with this more basic kind of nanotechnologies and that ethics impacts every kind of nanotechnologies, already from the simplest kind of engineered nanoproducts. These ethical issues are mainly associated with the social desirability of nanotechnologies, with the difficulties to define nanotechnologies properly, with the important uncertainties surrounding nanotechnologies, with the threat of ‘nano-divide’, and with nanotechnology as ‘dual-use technology’
Keywords Ethics  Equity  Dual-use technology  Generations of nanotechnologies  Informed consent  Nano-divide  Nanotechnologies  Precautionary principle  Risk  Social desirability  Uncertainty
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DOI 10.1007/s11569-011-0137-8
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