Nanotech Database

Article Title:
Are You a Responsible Nanoscientist?

Jones, Richard

Journal Information:
Nature Nanotechnology
Vol. 4, Num. 6


Jones analyzes the European Commissions code of ethics for nanoscience and nanotechnology research to find that most scientists would not be happy with the recommended ideas of culpability and responsibility. For instance, the idea that doing general nanotechnological research absents one from responsibility for its eventual application is found wanting by the EC, which states that scientists are responsible for any environmental, social or humanitarian impacts their research may cause. While some scientists may hide behind their works designation as legal and therefore justifiable, Jones points out that many would strongly disagree with the principle that what is legal is necessarily ethical. Scientists cannot even claim the government should determine if the work they are hired for is ethical, because these individuals have a duty to ensure what they are doing is ethical, especially when so many question the moral fiber of most governments. While he comes to no useful recommendation as to how this should be done, Jones does prescribe some sort of standard by which scientists can judge the validity and morality of their work on an individual basis.