skip to main content

Title: Specificity and Engagement: Increasing ELSI s Relevance to Nano Scientists

Scholars studying the ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) associated with emerging technologies maintain the importance of considering these issues throughout the research and development cycle, even during the earliest stages of basic research. Embedding these considerations within the scientific process requires communication between ELSI scholars and the community of physical scientists who are conducting that basic research. We posit that this communication can be effective on a broad scale only if it links societal issues directly to characteristics of the emerging technology that are relevant to the physical and natural scientists involved in research and development. In this article, we examine nano-ELSI literature from 2003 to 2010 to discern the degree to which it makes these types of explicit connections. We find that, while the literature identifies a wide range of issues of societal concern, it generally does so in a non-specific manner. It neither links societal issues to particular forms or characteristics of widely divergent nanotechnologies nor to any of the many potential uses to which those nanotechnologies may be put. We believe that these kinds of specificity are essential to those engaged in nano-scale research. We also compare the literature-based findings to observations from interviews we conductedmore » with nanoscientists and conclude that ELSI scholars should add technical- and application-related forms of specificity to their work and their writings to enhance effectiveness and impact in communicating with one important target audience members of the nanoscale science community.« less
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [3]
  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  2. Higher Education Research Experiences at Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  3. Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: NanoEthics; Journal Volume: 8; Journal Issue: 2
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States
77 NANOSCIENCE AND NANOTECHNOLOGY Emerging technologies; Ethical; legal; and social issues; Nano-ELSI literature; Nanoscience