, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 171–181 | Cite as

Beyond Conversation: Some Lessons for Nanoethics

  • Arianna Ferrari
  • Alfred Nordmann
Original Paper


One of the aims of the DEEPEN project was to deepen ethical understanding of issues related to emerging nanotechnologies through an interdisciplinary approach utilizing insights from philosophy, ethics, and the social sciences. Accordingly, part of its final report was dedicated to the question of what was accomplished with regards to this aim and what further research is required. It relates two insights: Nanotechnologies intensify the ambivalence of ongoing, long-term developments; and yet, our intuitions and received story-lines fail us as a guide to ethical and political matters concerning nanotechnologies.


Limits of knowledge and control Designing human and material nature Co-production of responsibility Risk/hope analysis Power of technoscience 


  1. 1.
    Amato I (1999) Nanotechnology: shaping the world atom by atom. National Science and Technology Council, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bowman D, Hodge G, Maynard A (eds.) (2010) International handbook on regulating nanotechnologies. Cheltenham: Edward ElgarGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cassirer E (1985) Form und Technik. In: Cassirer E (ed) Symbol, Technik, Sprache. Meiner, Hamburg, pp 39–92Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Conrad P (2007) The medicalization of society: on the transformation of human conditions into medical disorders. Johns Hopkins University Press, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Davies JC (2008) Nanotechnology oversight: an agenda for the new administration. Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Davies S, Macnaghten P, Kearnes M (eds) (2009) Reconfiguring responsibility: lessons for public policy (Part 1 of the report on Deepening Debate on Nanotechnology). Durham University, DurhamGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Davies S, Macnaghten P (2010) Narratives of mastery and resistance: Lay ethics of nanotechnology. Nanoethics 4:(in this volume)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Dupuy J-P (2010) The Narratology of Lay Ethics. Nanoethics 4:(in this volume)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Commission E (2008) Commission recommendation of 07/02/2008 on a code of conduct for responsible nanosciences and nanotechnologies research. European Commission, BrusselsGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Felt U, Wynne B et al (2007) Taking European knowledge society seriously. European Commission, BrusselsGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Ferrari A (2010) Developments in the debate on nanoethics: traditional approaches and the need for new kinds of analysis. Nanoethics 4:27–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ferrari A, Nordmann A (eds) (2009) Reconfiguring responsibility: lessons for nanoethics (Part 2 of the report on Deepening Debate on Nanotechnology). Durham University, DurhamGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Jasanoff S (2003) Technologies of humility: citizen participation in governing science. Minerva 41:223–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Nordmann A, Kohl T (rapporteurs) (2010) Ethical and societal aspects of nanomedicine. in nanomed: a report on the nanomedicine economic, regulatory, ethical and social environment, 11–17Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Nordmann A, Macnaghten P (2010) Engaging narratives and the limits of lay ethics: introduction. Nanoethics 4:(in this volume)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Nordmann A, Rip A (2009) Mind the Gap revisited. Nat Nanotechnol 4:273–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Nordmann A (2010) Enhancing material nature. In: Kjølberg KL, Wickson F (eds) Nano meets macro: social perspectives on nanoscale sciences and technologies. Pan Stanford, Singapore, pp 283–306Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Nordmann A, Schwarz A (2010) Lure of the “Yes”: the seductive power of technoscience. In: Kaiser M, Kurath M, Maasen S, Rehmann-Sutter C (eds) Governing future technologies: nanotechnology and the rise of an assessment regime. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 255–277Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Pavlopoulos M, Grinbaum A, Bontems V (2010) Toolkit for ethical reflection and communication on nanotechnology. CEA, Saclay, available at, accessed July 9, 2010Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    von Schomberg R (2010) Organising collective responsibility: on precaution, codes of conduct and understanding public debate. In: Fiedeler U, Coenen C, Davies S, Ferrari A (eds) Understanding nano and emerging technologies: a volume from the S.Net Society. IOS Press, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Shelley-Egan C (2010) The ambivalence of promising technology. NanoethicsGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Swierstra T, Rip A (2007) Nano-ethics as NEST-ethics: patterns of moral argumentation about new and emerging science and technology. Nanoethics 1:3–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Vogt T (2010) Buying time—using nanotechnologies and other emerging technologies for a sustainable future. In: Fiedeler U, Coenen C, Davies S, Ferrari A (eds) Understanding Nanotechnology. Philosophy, Policy and Publics. IOS Press, Amsterdam (in press)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Ferrari A (2008) The hyped nano and the stressed laboratory animal. In: Nanotechnology: towards reducing animal testing, 28–29 May 2008, The Royal Society, London. Institute of Nanotechnology, Post-Event Proceedings, CD-ROMGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)KarlsruheGermany

Personalised recommendations