Ethical and Societal Values in Nanotoxicology
This chapter has explored a variety of ways that ethical and societal values associated with environmental policy making move “upstream” into the practice of policy-relevant scientific research. In the case of nanotoxicology, researchers face value-laden decisions about what materials to study, what biological models to employ, which effects to examine, and what standards of evidence to demand. Depending on how these choices are made, they can support the interests of those who want to aggressively protect environmental and public health, or they can benefit the regulated industries that are trying to market new products. In order to incorporate more effective ethical and societal reflection on these decisions, the chapter suggests developing socially-sensitive research-ethics training, developing appropriate forms of deliberation, and strategically investing in independently funded research.
KeywordsScientific Practice Biological Model Precautionary Principle Asbestos Fiber Public Health Threat
I thank Tara Sabo-Attwood and Tom Chandler for very helpful scientific input and examples. This work was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0809470. Any opinions, findings, conclusion, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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