If such a thing as nanoethics is possible, it can only develop by confronting the great questions of moral philosophy, thus avoiding the pitfalls so common to regional ethics. We identify and analyze some of these pitfalls: the restriction of ethics to prudence understood as rational risk management; the reduction of ethics to cost/benefit analysis; the confusion of technique with technology and of human nature with the human condition. Once these points have been clarified, it is possible to take up (...) some weighty philosophical and metaphysical questions which are not new, but which need to be raised anew with respect to nanotechnologies: the artificialization of nature; the question of limits; the role of religion; the finiteness of the human condition as something with a beginning and an end; the relationship between knowledge and know-how; the foundations of ethics. (shrink)
The five narratives identified by the DEEPEN-project are interpreted in terms of the ancient story of desire, evil, and the sacred, and the modern narratives of alienation and exploitation. The first three narratives of lay ethics do not take stock of what has radically changed in the modern world under the triple and joint evolution of science, religion, and philosophy. The modern narratives, in turn, are in serious need of a post-modern deconstruction. Both critiques express the limits of humanism. They (...) do not imply, however, that these narratives should not be taken seriously. In particular, the enduring presence of three ancient narratives in laypeople’s symbolic thought is highly significant in terms of the role that the logic of the sacred keeps playing in the workings of modern societies. Lay people’s implicit understanding of how modern technology tends towards catastrophe and apocalypse provides the strongest argument for taking these narratives seriously. (shrink)
There are other options than the opposition set by Mele between his own account and the strict interpersonal model. The notion of collective self-deception or “social hypocrisy” is discussed and shown to be nonparadoxical. When an individual consciousness lies to itself, there is often a form of “negative collaboration” with another.