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01.08.2014 | Original Paper | Ausgabe 2/2014

NanoEthics 2/2014

Nanomedicine: Building a Bridge Between Science and Law

Zeitschrift:
NanoEthics > Ausgabe 2/2014
Autor:
Antonella Trisolino

Abstract

This article aims to address challenges of translating emerging scientific technologies into legal terms and incorporate them into the existing North American regulatory regimes. A lack of full scientific knowledge about nanomedicine technologies results in the lack of development in legal discourse to describe products and to clearly set legal standards on their safety and efficacy. The increasing complexity and hybrid nature of technologies negatively impact the functionality of “law in action” leading to a legal uncertainty and ultimately to a public distrust. Nanomedicine is an illustrative example of how law lags behind increasingly fast-paced scientific technologies making it difficult to find a balance between innovation and safety. This article argues that the boundary crossing nature of nanomedicine through different domains of science triggers a methodological and epistemological debate within science and law, suggesting that a critical revision is required in our traditional methods to learn, create, and categorize knowledge from breakthrough scientific advances. The highly disruptive nature of nanomedicine places stress on traditional conceptual frameworks, classifications of knowledge, and existing regulations. The legal challenge to identify definitions or to classify nanoapplications brings to light a conceptual vacuum surrounding nanomedicine. Moving away from confusing policies and obsolete classificatory models, this article suggests to undertake changes that are only the first steps of a more in-depth “epistemological transformation” that addresses knowledge as the process of not only gathering data, but also, as the process of elaborating new conceptual bases to better fulfill the legal language and facilitate the legal task of finding definitions and formulating criteria more adherent with scientific advances. This should compel regulators to explore new paradigms and develop new methodologies to evaluate data on nanomedicine applications in order to provide sustainable bases for a responsible development of nanomedicine.

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