, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 129-136
Date: 05 Aug 2009

Can Nanotechnology Be Just? On Nanotechnology and the Emerging Movement for Global Justice

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Abstract

Because of the overly market-oriented way in which technological development is carried out, there is a great amount of hubris in regard to how scientific and technological achievements are used in society. There is a tendency to exaggerate the potential commercial benefits and willfully neglect the social, cultural, and environmental consequences of most, if not all innovations, especially in new fields such as nanotechnology. At the same time, there are very few opportunities, or sites, for ensuring that nanotechnology is used justly and fairly, or for that matter, contribute to alleviating any of the wide variety of injustices that exist in the world. Most of the public authorities responsible for the development and application of science and technology are uninterested and unwilling to “assess” the implications of nanotechnology, and there are few, if any spaces in the broader culture for assessment to take place. Within the various “social movements” that are, in one way or another, concerned with issues of global justice, there is as yet little interest in nanotechnology. By examining the relations between nanotechnology and the emerging movement for global justice this article attempts to understand the enormous gap between the potential for science and technology to do good and the actual ways in science and technology get developed, and what, if anything, might be done to help close the gap in relation to nanotechnology, so that it might better be able to contribute to global justice.