Avoiding the Trust Deficit: Public Engagement, Values, the Precautionary Principle and the Future of Nanotechnology
Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 2009 March; 6(1): 37-48
Debates about the regulatory requirements surrounding the introduction of nanotechnology products have, at least in Australia, remained largely within disciplinary boundaries and industry and academic circles. This paper argues for a more interdisciplinary and inclusive upstream debate about the introduction of ethical, regulatory and legal frameworks that may avoid the loss of public trust that has characterised the introduction of many new technologies in the past. Insights from risk-perception theory and research are used to introduce the notion of risk as narrative as a framework for action. This paper suggests three main strategies for moving forward; drawing insights from the "trust gap" experiences of other new technologies; the application of the active form of the precautionary principle; and, the creation of nano-futures that meet both community and industry values through effective public engagement.
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