Title: Science, Utopia and the human condition

Authors: Roger Strand

Addresses: Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities, University of Bergen, P.O. Box 7805, N-5020 Bergen, Norway

Abstract: In science and innovation policies, conceptions of the future enter on multiple levels. This paper is concerned with the implicit conception of the future that appears to be built into the very frame of contemporary science and innovation policies in the knowledge society. Marquis de Condorcet's Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind is discussed as one example of a classic formulation of this conception: the Utopian hope for unlimited increase in wealth and happiness through scientific progress. The paper asks if debates on the plausibility of specific representations of the future, among policy-makers as well as the scholars studying them, rest upon a more fundamental implausible Utopian hope that conceals the vast transformative power of science and technology on the human condition. If this may be the case, the debates should be opened up to broader audiences for re-framing. If plausibility is to be determined, we should ask: whose applause?

Keywords: plausibility; science; Utopia; human condition; governance; innovation policy; Condorcet; reflexivity; knowledge society; post-normal science; PNS; foresight.

DOI: 10.1504/IJFIP.2013.058614

International Journal of Foresight and Innovation Policy, 2013 Vol.9 No.2/3/4, pp.110 - 124

Received: 21 Dec 2012
Accepted: 05 Oct 2013

Published online: 10 Jan 2014 *

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