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Sci Eng Ethics. 2015 Apr;21(2):293-315. doi: 10.1007/s11948-014-9543-y. Epub 2014 Apr 13.

Framework for the analysis of nanotechnologies' impacts and ethical acceptability: basis of an interdisciplinary approach to assessing novel technologies.

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Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Université de Sherbrooke, 3001 Twelfth Avenue North, Sherbrooke, QC, J1H 5N4, Canada,


The genetically manipulated organism (GMO) crisis demonstrated that technological development based solely on the law of the marketplace and State protection against serious risks to health and safety is no longer a warrant of ethical acceptability. In the first part of our paper, we critique the implicitly individualist social-acceptance model for State regulation of technology and recommend an interdisciplinary approach for comprehensive analysis of the impacts and ethical acceptability of technologies. In the second part, we present a framework for the analysis of impacts and acceptability, devised-with the goal of supporting the development of specific nanotechnological applications-by a team of researchers from various disciplines. At the conceptual level, this analytic framework is intended to make explicit those various operations required in preparing a judgement about the acceptability of technologies that have been implicit in the classical analysis of toxicological risk. On a practical level, we present a reflective tool that makes it possible to take into account all the dimensions involved and understand the reasons invoked in determining impacts, assessing them, and arriving at a judgement about acceptability.

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