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Scenarios and counterfactuals as modal narratives

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Stephen Procter


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Scenarios and counterfactuals are two types of modal narrative. Modal narratives concern themselves with contingency and determinism: with questions of possibility and necessity. While scenarios are future-oriented, focused on what might yet be, counterfactuals are narratives of what might have been. Despite this fundamental temporal difference, consideration of the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of modal narratives as a genre enables us to elucidate some critical issues concerning scenarios as a foresight methodology. In particular, the scenario literature has tended to avoid extended discussion of its implicit assumptions concerning causation, necessity, possibility and contingency. By confronting the modal nature of foresight methodologies more explicitly, the futures community may begin to lay more secure philosophical foundations for their deployment. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Booth C, Rowlinson M, Clark P, Delahaye A, Procter S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Futures

Year: 2009

Volume: 41

Issue: 2

Pages: 87-95

ISSN (print): 0016-3287

ISSN (electronic): 1873-6378

Publisher: Pergamon


DOI: 10.1016/j.futures.2008.07.037


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