Abstract: Scenario planning, art or science?

World Futures 61 (5):331 – 346 (2005)
This article will argue that there is a science of scenario planning; or at least a logos, a logic, a scenariology. Scenario planning is not predictive. But a good set of scenarios, scientifically developed, can reliably and predictably change minds. Scenario planning is both art and science. In joining the club of the sciences, scenario planning calls for a new kind of membership, or a new kind of science, one that, following Stuart Kauffman, relies on the importance of story. Hegel tells us that all stories, all narratives include a conflict between desire and the law, intention, and necessity. Scenarios provide a way for communities to frame their intentions. They thereby effect "downward causality" on the present in order to project the present toward a preferred future. In fulfilling the promise of this new kind of science, scenario planning breaks with positivistic science, but without falling into a postmodern nihilism. Without setting out to do so, the discipline of scenario planning introduces us to a new epistemology, a new way of knowing the truth. Drawing on pragmatism, Wittgenstein, and Richard Rorty, this article reaches the conclusion that, for scenario planners, the future replaces objectivity as the horizon for justification. What is true? We'll see.
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