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Science, Ethics, and the “Problems” of Governing Nanotechnologies

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2021


That cacophony you hear is coming from the growing number of commentators addressing ethical, social, and policy issues raised by nanotechnology. Like many novel technologies that disturb the status quo, nanotechnologies raise questions about the adequacy of oversight systems; the extent to which the technologies push legal, moral, and political boundaries; and ultimately, the implications for human health and well-being. Because nanoscale techniques and products challenge our ways of thinking about biology, physics, and chemistry, nanotechnology forces us to reconsider accepted wisdom on toxicity, mutagenicity, contamination, biocompatibility, and other interactions among humans, the environment, and technologies. The sheer scale and reach of nanotechnologies demands institutions, collaborations, and conventions that can cross-link knowledge across organizations, disciplines, and locales. If ever there was an occasion to rethink the limits of disciplinary-specific knowledge, norms about regulatory processes, and societal implications of new technologies, nanotechnologies provide the opportunity.

Copyright © American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics 2009

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Rosenberg, C., Our Present Complaint: American Medicine, Then and Now (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007).Google Scholar
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