Nano Archive

Engaging Narratives and the Limits of Lay Ethics: Introduction

Nordmann, Alfred and Macnaghten, Phil (2010) Engaging Narratives and the Limits of Lay Ethics: Introduction. NanoEthics, 4 (2). pp. 133-140.

PDF - Published Version

Official URL:


How can one discover the ethical issues associated with nanotechnologies? One heuristic is to tend closely to the ethical reflections of lay publics and the ways in which these are informed by experience with technological innovation, technology governance, and the (broken) promises of visionary science and technology. A close collaboration between social scientists and philosophers took this heuristic to its limits: On the one hand, it achieved remarkably fine-grained insights into public reflection about nanotechnologies. On the other hand, a philosophical analysis of these reflections makes apparent that there is a profound disconnect between the lay ethics rooted in public talk and the ethical and normative commitments that are embedded in nanotechnological research programs and practices. Accordingly, critical engagement with the ways in which ordinary people try to make sense of nanotechnologies constitutes a novel heuristic for the discovery of ethical issues. This introduction and the subsequent four papers show this heuristic at work.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Heuristics for the discovery of ethical issues - Narratives - Conversation and deliberation - Language games of ethics
Subjects:Social and Political Science > Societal and ethical aspects of nanotechnology
ID Code:9598
Deposited By:Lesley Tobin
Deposited On:28 Sep 2010 10:27
Last Modified:28 Sep 2010 10:27

Repository Staff Only: item control page