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Limits of Conceivability in the Study of the Future. Lessons from Philosophy of Science

Virmajoki, Veli (2022) Limits of Conceivability in the Study of the Future. Lessons from Philosophy of Science. Futures.

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Abstract

In this paper, the epistemological and conceptual limits of our ability to conceive and reason about future possibilities are analyzed. It is argued that more attention should be paid in futures studies on these epistemological and conceptual limits. Drawing on three cases from philosophy of science, the paper argues that there are deep epistemological and conceptual limits in our ability to conceive and reason about alternatives to the current world. The nature and existence of these limits are far from obvious and become visible only through careful investigation. The cases establish that we often are unable to conceive relevant alternatives; that historical and counterfactual considerations are more limited than has been suggested; and that the present state of affairs reinforces its hegemony through multiple conceptual and epistemological mechanisms. The paper discusses the reasons behind the limits of the conceivability and the consequences that follow from the considerations that make the limits visible. The paper suggests that the epistemological and conceptual limits in our ability to conceive and reason about possible futures should be mapped systematically. The mapping would provide a better understanding of the creative and critical bite of futures studies.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Virmajoki, Velivevirm@utu.fi
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Science and Policy
General Issues > Theory Change
Depositing User: Dr. Veli Virmajoki
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2022 03:41
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2022 03:41
Item ID: 20895
Journal or Publication Title: Futures
Publisher: Elsevier
Official URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/...
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2022.102993
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Science and Policy
General Issues > Theory Change
Date: 2022
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/20895

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