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Modeling Technoscience and Nanotechnology Assessment

Perspectives and Dilemmas


Ewa Binczyk and Tomasz Stepien

This book is presented by two authors who worked in close cooperation. The first part is written by Ewa Bińczyk and discusses various postulates that have been formulated in response to the problem of the unwanted side-effects of the practical success of technoscience which derive from two theoretical perspectives: the study of risk and science and technology studies (STS), inspired by actor-network theory (ANT). In the second part of the book Tomasz Stępień analyses and characterizes the nano-domain as an example of the development of techno-sciences. Generally, in the case of nanotechnology this book calibrates reciprocally to each other the indeed familiar but also slightly different theoretical approaches established in the philosophy of science and technology.
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6. Ethical, legal and societal implications of nanotechnology


Concerning the ethical aspects of nanotechnology it should be underlined that “there are hardly any genuinely new ethical aspects raised”, but there are a set of new challenges such as: 1) the scope of impact of the precautionary principle; 2) the research focuses on the interface between biological and technical systems; 3) the concept of converging technologies with the endeavour to enhance the human performance. The ethical questions concerning nanotechnology are above all interdisciplinary focused, but the “proposal of an independent ‘nanoethics’, however, seems exaggerated” (Brune et al. 2006: 15). This statement results from nanotechnology understanding as “a new category of technology” with “the precise manipulation of materials at the molecular level”, or on scale of 1 to 100 nm, exploiting “novel properties that emerge at that scale”, whit the unique phenomenon “that ordinary materials can have extraordinary properties”, what makes it possible that “by precisely manipulating common elements at the nanoscale, scientists can fashion new materials” so for instance the carbon nanotubes (Allhoff ← 150 | 151 → and Lin 2009: xxiii). But it is also the question how far nanotechnology is a distinct discipline in the system of science? “[T]here is still a debate over whether nanotechnology is an independent or new science, so unique from other fields that it should require or deserve its own category or moniker. Some have complained that nanotechnology is not distinct from other sciences – or at least its boundaries might be somewhat hazy – and therefore its ethics must be equally ill-defined. Others argue further...

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