Nanotech Database

Article Title:
Nanoethics: From Utopian Dreams and Apocalyptic Nightmares Towards a More Balanced View

Gordijn, Bert

Journal Information:
Science and Engineering Ethics
Vol. 11, Num. 4


Gordjin rejects the current handling of the nanotechnology debate as too broad. He "calls for the development of more balanced and better informed assessments." (Abstract) The basic definition of nanotechnology is in debate -- whether it is a matter of size or a matter of power to manipulate. Gordjin says the presence or absence of molecular self-assemblers is not the key issue. However wonderful or catastrophic our pictures of the future may be, these utopian/dystopian visions are not helpful as regards ethics. To assess nanotechnology properly, we should ask the following questions: what are the objectives of nanotechnology in the field to which it is being applied? Are these objectives worth striving for? Is the research being done able to realize those objectives? Are the ethical problems raised by the research justifiable or surmountable? This framework will ground ethical inquiries and allow a rational and systematic assessment of research.