BioéthiqueOnline 1:11 (2012)

Chris MacDonald
Ryerson University
Nanotechnology research is beginning to see widespread coverage in the media and popular science literatures, but discussions of hopes and fears about nanotechnology have already become polarised into utopian and dystopian visions. More moderate discussions focus on the near-term applications of nanotechnologies, and on potential benefits and harms. However, in exploring the social and ethical implications of nanotechnology, important lessons should be learned from experiences in other fields. In particular, studies of the ethical, legal, and social issues of genetics research have successfully mapped out many of the issues that arise when new technologies are deployed. It is our contention that, for the most part, the ethical and social issues arising in nanomedicine are not altogether new, and thus do not require novel ethical principles or frameworks, nor a massive investment in ‘NELSI’ research. Instead, what is needed is support for the development of a culture of ethics amongst scientists and clinicians, basic scientific and medical knowledge for bioethicists, and a social competency for citizens to participate actively in debates about the implications of new technologies in general.
Keywords bioethics  nanotechnology  research funding
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