Engaging Narratives and the Limits of Lay Ethics: Introduction [Book Review]

NanoEthics 4 (2):133-140 (2010)
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How can one discover the ethical issues associated with nanotechnologies? One heuristic is to tend closely to the ethical reflections of lay publics and the ways in which these are informed by experience with technological innovation, technology governance, and the (broken) promises of visionary science and technology. A close collaboration between social scientists and philosophers took this heuristic to its limits: On the one hand, it achieved remarkably fine–grained insights into public reflection about nanotechnologies. On the other hand, a philosophical analysis of these reflections makes apparent that there is a profound disconnect between the lay ethics rooted in public talk and the ethical and normative commitments that are embedded in nanotechnological research programs and practices. Accordingly, critical engagement with the ways in which ordinary people try to make sense of nanotechnologies constitutes a novel heuristic for the discovery of ethical issues. This introduction and the subsequent four papers show this heuristic at work.



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