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Heuristics of Technosciences

Philosophical Framing in the Case of Nanotechnology


Tomasz Stępień

Confronted with the accelerated development of science and technology the presented analyses are focusing on three predominant theoretical approaches in the philosophy of science and technology: technoscience (STS), technology assessment (TA) and converging technologies (NBIC). On this base are extrapolated the coordinates of the heuristics of technosciences which are recognized as the platform of understanding but also dealing with technoscientific innovations. This concerns especially nanotechnology and the emerging theoretical, methodological, ethical, socio-political controversies and dilemmas. In this manner the book epitomizes the elaborated to date approaches and designs the heuristic turn as the strategy of comprehensive understanding of technosciences.
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5. Nanotechnology in historical context and the problem of definition


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5.   Nanotechnology in historical context and the problem of definition

The history of the nano-domain includes its scientific and technological development, constitution of its fundamentals and essentials, and initiation of a critical reflection about the societal and ethical impacts in the last two decades.62 Hereby the launched research programs on the global level make out the base of nano-domain constitution. The background of the scientific and technological advancement of the nano-domain is represented by the research in physics in the first half of the 20th century, then in the 1950s with the first information technologies and the so called small-tech, which have changed our world by making the things smaller, and the materials science in the 1960s. At the beginning of the 21st century these changes are recognized as the condition of the development and forthcoming in biology and chemistry. Therewith physics, information technologies, chemistry and biology remark the advances in contemporary science and technology. The nano-domain itself appears hereby as the point of junction and synergy between them. At the same time nanotechnology makes part of the ‘small-tech’.63

5.1   General understanding of the nano-domain

From historical point of view the constitution of nano-research – at first in the meaning of physical miniaturization – began with the lecture by Richard P. Feynman at the Caltech in Los Angeles in 1959. This lecture is recognized by the nano-researchers as the founding document of the nano-domain because it presented at first time the essential...

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