Revolutionary and familiar, inevitable and precarious: Rhetorical contradictions in enthusiasm for nanotechnology [Book Review]

NanoEthics 1 (1):57-68 (2007)
Abstract
This paper analyses rhetorics of scientific and corporate enthusiasm surrounding nanotechnology. I argue that enthusiasts for nanotechnologies often try to have it both ways on questions concerning the nature and possible impact of these technologies, and the inevitability of their development and use. In arguments about their nature and impact we are simultaneously informed that these are revolutionary technologies with the potential to profoundly change the world and that they merely represent the extension of existing technologies. They are revolutionary and familiar. In debates surrounding possible regulation of these technologies it is claimed both that their development is inevitable, so that regulation would be fruitless, and that increased research funding and legislative changes are necessary in order that we can enjoy their benefits. That is, they are inevitable and precarious. An increased awareness of these rhetorical contradictions may allow us better to assess the likely impact and future of nanotechnology.
Keywords Ethics  Funding  Nanotechnology  Public opinion  Science  Rhetoric  Technology
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