On the Novelty of Nanotechnology: A Philosophical Essay

  • Joachim SchummerEmail author
Part of the The International Library of Ethics, Law and Technology book series (ELTE, volume 10)


Nanotechnology has from its very beginning been surrounded with an aura of novelty that calls for a philosophical analysis. In order to do so, I first try to clarify the different meanings of the concept of novelty. This helps us understand that many paradoxes and fallacies dominate ordinary discourses on novelty, which any serious approach needs to avoid. Equipped with these conceptual clarifications, I discuss novelty first in science and engineering in general and point out the unique role that novelty plays in these areas. Then I discuss the novelty of nanotechnology by distinguishing between different levels and aspects of nanotechnology. The results allow reassessing public novelty claims about nanotechnology not only from an epistemological but also from ethical and political perspectives. I conclude with some remarks on the politics of producing and claiming novelty.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of KarlsruheKarlsruheGermany

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