Title: Pursuing plausibility

Authors: Cynthia Selin; Ângela Guimarães Pereira

Addresses: Center for Nanotechnology in Society, School of Sustainability and the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-5502, USA ' European Commission – Joint Research Centre (JRC), Via E. Fermi, 2749 TP361, I-21027 Ispra (VA), Italy

Abstract: There is a need for a corrective to the cultural and institutional mindsets that seek to calculate incalculable futures. Plausibility is an undertheorised and illusive concept yet one that critically moves beyond a search for a factual encounter with the future. While not assuming that plausibility will unproblematically lift policy making and technology assessment from failures of both imagination and prediction, teasing apart the tensions latent in the concept is helpful and timely. The articles in this special issue ask: is plausibility another mode of relating to the future that acknowledges an intrinsically uncertain and contingent future? Does plausibility offer a pathway away from the pathologies of prediction and probabilistic thinking to create a more fruitful space to make better decisions? This introductory article describes the intellectual pursuit of plausibility through a description of the contemporary conditions that necessitate a revised approach to uncertainty and a historical account of the rise of probabilistic thinking.

Keywords: plausibility; scenarios; post-normal science; PNS; foresight; technology assessment; sustainability; innovation; policy making; probabilistic thinking.

DOI: 10.1504/IJFIP.2013.058616

International Journal of Foresight and Innovation Policy, 2013 Vol.9 No.2/3/4, pp.93 - 109

Published online: 10 Jan 2014 *

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