Bacchini, Fabio (2013) The Newness of nanoethics and the consequentialist bias. Etica & politica = Ethics & politics, Vol. 15 (1), p. 321-332. eISSN 1825-5167. Article.
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While many authors agree that a necessary condition for considering nanoethics as a new distinct field of inquiry is that some ethical problem arising in nanotechnology be new, I argue that we have good reasons to consider nanoethics as a new distinct field of applied ethics, although we have no good reason to think that any new ethical problem shows up in it. In fact, I claim that nanoethics will ask us to re-shape our ways of conceiving real-ity, the relationship between ourselves and the external world, and the whole ethical di-mension of such relationship – and this is enough for considering it as a new distinct field of inquiry. Then I offer a view of what is part of nanoethics and what is not, and in par-ticular I argue that – under an account of ‘ethics’ and ‘nanoethics’ as battlefields for ar-guments supporting rival ethical conclusions – even a description of what people ethically think about nanotechnology, or a description of nanoethics itself, are not part of nanoeth-ics. Finally I consider the possibility of a consequentialist bias affecting nanoethics: I admit that risks have inappropriately monopolised the debate and that some interesting nanoethical issues may have nothing to do with risks, but I also stress that it is particu-larly difficult to adopt a non-consequentialist view in nanoethics, because non-consequentialism presupposes that consequences are going to fall within a known range of possibilities, and this presupposition is not attainable in nanotechnology.
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