Closing the Gap Between Science and Ethics Essay
Closing the Gap Between Science and Ethics
The rapid development of nanotechnologies has already become the distinctive feature of the postmodern technological reality. Societies live in the atmosphere of the rapid technological advancement, and new technological achievements and small revolutions are no longer a surprise. Nanotechnologies have a potential to become the source of revolutionary waves in contemporary society.
The effects of such revolutions, however, will depend on how well the existing scientific, political, economic, and social institutions can mediate the society-nanotechnology relationships and whether they can promote public acceptability and positive expectations regarding nanotechnology. The current state of science is characterised by the growing gap between nanotechnologies and ethics. Equity, privacy, security, and environmental aspects remain the issues of the major scientific concern.
Today, professionals in nanotechnology need to reconsider the basic standards of their scientific performance and develop effective cooperation frameworks, which will help societies meet their ethical needs and will speed up the integration of nanomaterials with all spheres of human development and growth. In his article, Douglas Parr asserts that nanotechnologies are likely to produce a revolutionary wave of innovations in society. That nanotechnologies are breaking the ice of scientific illiteracy in the postmodern society cannot be denied.
To a large extent, nanotechnologies mark the beginning of a new stage in the society’s movement toward scientific and human perfection. Recent advancements in nanotechnology confirm the need for the scientific community to develop effective cooperation ties with the rest of non-scientific population, and there are several reasons for that. First and foremost, research and advancement in nanotechnologies have resulted in the major advances in material science, microscopy, and better understanding of the borderline between quantum and classical physics, which produce significant effects on society.
Second, nanotechnologies will lead to a major revolution and produce serious scientific and social shifts in society. Third, the most developed countries readily integrate nanotechnologies with their innovation systems and consider nanotechnologies as the basic driver of wealth creation. Fourth, numerous nanotechnology applications will be introduced into the market. In this atmosphere, society must familiarise itself with the recent advances in nanotechnology. Moreover, society must realise that nanotechnologies can be equally good and bad.
As a result, the question is in how to obtain the good of nanotechnologies without the bad and whether it is possible at all. Unfortunately, the current state of nanotechnologies makes it difficult for scientists and society to distinguish the good effects of the nanotechnological revolution from its negative implications. The problem is not only in that “debates about nanotechnology from governments have been dominated by the simple metric of the amount of money being put into nanotechnology for international competitiveness reasons.
” The problem is in that a large gap between ethics and nanotechnologies exists and influences negatively the development of the postmodern science. The number of scientific publications on nanotechnologies rapidly increases, but the number of publications that discuss ethical and social implications of nanotechnologies is at least scarce. The funds available for ethical research in nanotechnology are not being used. The lack of effective dialogue between granting bodies, research institutes and the public may turn nanotechnologies into the source of devastating effects on society.
More often than not, research institutes and public bodies do not realise that nanotechnology is associated with a whole range of ethical issues. These issues cover equity, security and privacy, ethical implications, and even metaphysical questions. One of the first questions is who will benefit from nanotechnologies and how these benefits are to be distributed among society members. Nanotechnologies have a potential to reduce and resolve the most difficult social controversies, including poverty and animal species extinction; however, this is possible only in case the products of scientific evolution are managed properly.
Security and privacy are also among the issues of serious scientific concern. Nanotechnologies will contribute to the development of radically new weapons and surveillance systems; and people must decide how it will protect individual privacy against the presence of near invisible surveillance mechanisms. The effects of nanotechnologies on the environment are yet to be discovered. The incorporation of artificial materials into human systems requires profound ethical and social analysis. To ensure that nanotechnologies work for the benefit of the whole society, a close dialogue must exist between research institutions and the public.
Such dialogue will allow prioritising the most important areas of technological research. Such dialogue will also let scientists justify the choice of the most important research areas against direct determinations of societal and public aspirations in these areas. Social and ethical implications of NT research are easy to address through appropriate funding, the development of large-scale interdisciplinary research platforms, intersectional approach, the involvement of developing countries in NT research, as well as the continuous engagement of the public in all major aspects of NT evolution.
These changes will reduce the negative potential of nanotechnologies and will turn them into a successful instrument of meeting the most sophisticated society needs. Conclusion The rapid development of nanotechnologies has already become the distinctive feature of the postmodern reality. Unfortunately, the current state of nanotechnological research is characterised by the growing gap between science and ethics. Society lacks resources needed to familiarise itself with the bad and good sides of nanotechnologies and to reduce their negative potential.
Today, scientists must engage in a close dialogue with the public and actively engage the public into NT evolution and research. Appropriate funding, interdisciplinary research platforms and intersectional analysis will help to reduce the existing gap between nanotechnologies and their ethical implications. BIBLIOGRAPHY MNYUSIWALLA, A. , DAAR, A. S. & SINGER, P. ‘Mind the gap’: Science and ethics in nanotechnology. Nanotechnology, 14: 2003: R9-R13. PARR, D. Will nanotechnology make the world a better place? Trends in Biotechnology, 23(8): Aug. 2008: 395-398.