Mapping Possibilities: Philosophy of Science and Scenarios of the Future 

This talk argues for the value of using philosophy of science to construct scenarios about possible futures of science. Scenarios are structured descriptions of hypothetical future situations and events. Philosophy provides theoretical resources for scenario construction by offering accounts of scientific change. Different philosophical theories lead to different scenarios, revealing unique possibilities for the future.

Scenarios do not predict but rather map possibilities to allow preparedness. Their philosophical grounding enables systematic and reasoned scenario development. This regulates imagination and counters pure speculation.

Comparing scenarios based on competing theories enhances understanding of the scope of possible futures. It also facilitates critical reflection on philosophical accounts when interpreting scenarios. Scenario analysis aligns with core objectives of futures research: identification of patterns, challenging conventional thinking, and informing decisions.

Connecting philosophy of science and scenarios can make philosophy more relevant to anticipating implications of scientific change. It also indicates philosophy’s value for clarifying possibilities, managing uncertainty, and enabling accountability regarding the future. Exploring futures of science via philosophical scenarios is thus a promising approach warranting further development.

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