Representations of the future play a vital role in the framing of scientific uncertainty, as metrics in policy measures, as animated cultural symbols, and as rationales for economic activity. Investigating the conceptual and methodological dimensions of plausibly is a means to better understand the meaning and significance of the ways individuals and communities know, explore, assess, and shape futures across time, cultures, and professional practices.
How different communities establish plausibility is a particularly interesting locus of concern bringing questions of disciplinary knowledge, evidence, and values to the fore. The production and consumption of anticipatory knowledge is bound up in imagination and speculation, the analytic treatment of expectations, the creation of visions and predictive models – a whole range of practices, methods and tools. Yet little is said about the quality of future-oriented knowledge and its impacts. This special issue will explore the concept of plausibility from a variety of disciplinary perspectives and through an assessment of the variety of ways plausibility is constructed and contested.
Examples of questions that could be addressed include, but are not limited to:
- What are the historical antecedents to plausibility that shape the broader political, cultural and cognitive structures that guide societies approach to incalculable futures?
- Does plausibility offer a pathway away from the pathologies of prediction and probabilistic thinking that enables better decision making in the present?
- More generally, what is the basis of the drive to quantify futures and develop metrics in response to uncertainty?
- How is extended temporality - the distant future - handled in professional accounting, legal, business, engineering and cultural practices?
- What is the relationship between plausibility, probability and possibility and how do those distinctions relate to notions of trust and legitimacy?
- What are the quality criteria evident in contemporary foresight methods?
Extended abstract due: 1 September, 2011
First draft due: 15 April, 2012
Final draft due: 1 September, 2012