Nanoethics'? What's New?

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The nanotechnology hype, engendering both fanatical optimism and apocalyptic fears, has produced calls from different commentators for "a radical change in the way we address ethical issues" and a "novel [ethical] approach to the future" that must be divorced from existing moral theories. However, a unique ethical framework devised specifically for nanotechnology is both impossible and unnecessary. The ethical issues predicted to accompany nanomedicine and nanotechnology (e.g., safety, justice, and privacy concerns) are raised by medicine, biotechnology, genetics, and other technologies, and will call for balancing familiar values: autonomy, beneficence, fairness, etc. At present, ethical attention should concentrate on safety and environmental studies and preparing for unforeseeable consequences, while the scientific community should prepare for a public dialogue.

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