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Ethical and Societal Values in Nanotoxicology

Elliott, Kevin (2013) Ethical and Societal Values in Nanotoxicology. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Ethicists and policy makers have spent a good deal of effort considering how to make societal decisions in response to emerging public- and environmental-health risks like those posed by nanomaterials. This paper explores how these sorts of ethical and societal value judgments about responding to nanotechnology’s environmental health and safety risks arise not only in the public-policy domain but also “upstream,” in the performance of scientific research. It focuses especially on the notion that particular forms of research can be more “precautionary” than others, in the sense that they tend to facilitate the identification and prevention of environmental or public health threats to a greater extent than other approaches. This is illustrated in a specific case study of recent research in nanotoxicology, which shows how ethical and societal values could influence at least four aspects of research: (1) the nanomaterials studied; (2) the biological models used to investigate them; (3) the effects examined; and (4) the standards of evidence required for drawing conclusions. The paper concludes by proposing some mechanisms for integrating more careful ethical reflection into these “upstream,” value-laden decisions that pervade research on nanotechnology as well as other policy-relevant areas of science.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Elliott, Kevinke@sc.edu
Keywords: nanotechnology, values in science, precautionary principle, deliberation, research ethics, conflicts of interest
Subjects: General Issues > Ethical Issues
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Science Policy
General Issues > Technology
General Issues > Values In Science
Depositing User: Kevin Elliott
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2013 13:06
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2013 13:06
Item ID: 9543
Subjects: General Issues > Ethical Issues
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Science Policy
General Issues > Technology
General Issues > Values In Science
Date: 2013
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/9543

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