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NSP: Theorizing the Nanoworld

Strategies & tips for locating resources for your research project.

Nanotech Term Paper Assignment

From Professors Fox and Leveritt: 

Essay Goal: 

Your goals in this essay are:

a) to develop a technical/scientific account of some emerging field within nanotechnology, and then

b) critique its futurist implications using Jonas’ ethical principles.

Possible Outline / Sequence of topics: 

  • What problem or challenge is the technology you’ve chosen intended to address, and
  • what is the precise nature of the advance which it promises?

Answering this will require that you first exhibit a sufficient understanding of the physical scientific (i.e. molecular-level physics, electromagnetic theory, cell biology, quantum physics) and technical/engineering approaches that your chosen field involves. Because your goal here will be to offer the most well-informed and sound explanation of the technology itself, this portion will draw on current literature and research. Having explained the technological side, you then must prognosticate as to the positive and negative implications of this technological advance for the biosphere and for the essence of Man. Explain Jonas’ ethical imperatives in detail, and apply them to the intended outcomes. What unintended consequences can you anticipate that he would judge? In the end, would Jonas regard the technology morally permissible or forbidden, and why?

Requirements and expectations:

  • Length: 12-15 pages, double spaced, 12 pt type, standard margins
  • Format: any consistent style, (i.e. APA, Turabian)
  • References: at least six references
    • no more than two of them consisting of books/monographs,
    • with scholarly journal articles/periodicals making up the rest.

Relevant Dates: 

  • Annotated bibliography and rough outline due October 29; submitted online
    • ‚ÄčThis will sketch out your argument using the above outline as a template; the more complete, the more useful we can be in offering comment.
    • For the bibliography, we want a three-sentence minimum explanation of what you will be drawing from the source (i.e. concepts, data, methods, results) and, if applicable, any criticisms you might have.
  • Rough draft due November 21; submitted online
  • Final draft due December 3; submitted online