Scenarios and the Growth of Knowledge: Notes on the Epistemic Element in Scenario Building

Technological Forecasting & Social Change 72 (2005) 815–824

10 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2012

See all articles by Paul Dragos Aligica

Paul Dragos Aligica

George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Date Written: 2004

Abstract

Scenarios raise a very remarkable challenge. They are a special category of thought experiments and as such they deal with the domain of the possible and probable, i.e. with the world of speculation. Nevertheless they are of a crucial practical importance for public policy, management and strategic thinking in general: any premeditated significant action has to be preceded by such a thought experiment that anticipates the possibility of its outcomes and its implications. The question is then, how could speculation have such a crucial epistemic role? What kind of knowledge, if any, do scenarios produce? What is the epistemic role of scenarios? The objective of this article is to discuss the controversial but crucial issue of the epistemic functions of scenarios and to outline several possible approaches to it. The article explores the relevance in this respect of the research that has been already done on thought experiments, de-biasing, deductive arguments and uncertainty — and complexity — coping cognitive devices while indicating the potential contribution of that literature to the further development of the scenario building practice and of the futures methodology.

Keywords: Scenario building, thought experiments, de-biasing, uncertainty, social epistemology

Suggested Citation

Aligica, Paul Dragos, Scenarios and the Growth of Knowledge: Notes on the Epistemic Element in Scenario Building (2004). Technological Forecasting & Social Change 72 (2005) 815–824, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2149094

Paul Dragos Aligica (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

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Arlington, VA 22201
United States

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