Title: Plausibility indications in future scenarios

Authors: Arnim Wiek; Lauren Withycombe Keeler; Vanessa Schweizer; Daniel J. Lang

Addresses: School of Sustainability, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-5502, USA; Center for Nanotechnology in Society, Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-5502, USA ' School of Sustainability, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-5502, USA ' Centre for Knowledge Integration, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1, Canada ' Faculty Sustainability, Institute of Ethics and Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, 21335 Lüneburg, Germany

Abstract: Quality criteria for generating future-oriented knowledge and future scenarios are different from those developed for knowledge about past and current events. Such quality criteria can be defined relative to the intended function of the knowledge. Plausibility has emerged as a central quality criterion of scenarios that allows exploring the future with credibility and saliency. But what exactly is plausibility vis-à-vis probability, consistency, and desirability? And how can plausibility be evaluated and constructed in scenarios? Sufficient plausibility, in this article, refers to scenarios that hold enough evidence to be considered 'occurrable'. This might have been the underlying idea of scenarios all along without being explicitly elaborated in a pragmatic concept or methodology. Here, we operationalise plausibility in scenarios through a set of plausibility indications and illustrate the proposal with scenarios constructed for Phoenix, Arizona. The article operationalises the concept of plausibility in scenarios to support scholars and practitioners alike.

Keywords: plausibility; future studies; scenarios; sustainability; anticipatory knowledge; foresight; scenario assessment; probability; consistency; desirability; quality criteria.

DOI: 10.1504/IJFIP.2013.058611

International Journal of Foresight and Innovation Policy, 2013 Vol.9 No.2/3/4, pp.133 - 147

Received: 14 Dec 2012
Accepted: 25 Sep 2013

Published online: 10 Jan 2014 *

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