A question of balance or blind faith?: Scientists' and science policymakers' representations of the benefits and risks of nanotechnologies [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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NanoEthics 1 (3):243-256 (2007)
In recent years, in the UK and elsewhere, scientists and science policymakers have grappled with the question of how to reap the benefits of nanotechnologies while minimising the risks. Having recognised the importance of public support for future innovations, they have placed increasing emphasis on ‘engaging’ ‘the public’ during the early phase of technology development. Meaningful engagement suggests some common ground between experts and lay publics in relation to the definition of nanotechnologies and of their benefits and risks. However, views on nanotechnologies are likely to vary according to where actors stand in the technology production/consumption/assessment cycle. Drawing on data from a recent UK-based study, this article examines how scientists (‘upstream’ and ‘downstream’) and policymakers portray the benefits and risks of nanotechnologies, particularly as they relate to two major areas of predicted application, namely medicine/public health and environmental sustainability. The findings reveal that, in the main, scientists and science policymakers held a positive conception of nanotechnologies and see imminent applications, although they acknowledged particular risks, including adverse public reaction. While definitions of ‘benefit’ and ‘risk’ varied, most saw the benefits as outweighing the risks and believed that the risks could be adequately regulated once they were assessed. The difficulties of assessing risk, however, were acknowledged. The study raises a number of questions that will need to be addressed if regulations are to be developed that not only protect people’s heath and wellbeing and the environment but also engender public trust in nanotechnologies.
|Keywords||Nanoparticles Scientists Science policymakers Risk Regulation Trust Public engagement Medicine Public health Environmental sustainability|
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References found in this work BETA
Alan Irwin (2003). Science, Social Theory and Public Knowledge. Open University Press.
Theodore L. Brown (2008). Making Truth: Metaphor in Science. University of Illinois Press.
Thomas F. Gieryn (1999). Cultural Boundaries of Science Credibility on the Line. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
Brian E. Wynne, Public Engagement as Means of Restoring Trust in Science? Hitting the Notes, but Missing the Music.
Citations of this work BETA
Arianna Ferrari (2010). Developments in the Debate on Nanoethics: Traditional Approaches and the Need for New Kinds of Analysis. [REVIEW] NanoEthics 4 (1):27-52.
Céline Kermisch (2012). Do New Ethical Issues Arise at Each Stage of Nanotechnological Development? NanoEthics 6 (1):29-37.
Matthias Fink, Rainer Harms & Isabella Hatak (2012). Nanotechnology and Ethics: The Role of Regulation Versus Self-Commitment in Shaping Researchers' Behavior. [REVIEW] Journal of Business Ethics 109 (4):569-581.
Haico te Kulve, Kornelia Konrad, Carla Alvial Palavicino & Bart Walhout (2013). Context Matters: Promises and Concerns Regarding Nanotechnologies for Water and Food Applications. [REVIEW] NanoEthics 7 (1):17-27.
Stephen H. Cutcliffe, Christine M. Pense & Michael Zvalaren (2012). Framing the Discussion: Nanotechnology and the Social Construction of Technology--What STS Scholars Are Saying. NanoEthics 6 (2):81-99.
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