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Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology

Volume 22, Issue 2, 2018

Martin Sand
Pages 262-282
DOI: 10.5840/techne201862684

How the Future Has a Grip on Us

Being faced with bold statements about the technological future, the wickedness of technological systems and our frequent cluelessness when aiming at predicting the course of such systems, scholars from philosophy of technology and Technology Assessment (TA) have given up believing that any method can enhance our knowledge about the future. Hence, hermeneutic TA, forensics of wishing and other approaches shift their focus on the present of such futures. While these approaches are meaningful in their own right, they basically rest on a too sceptical foundation. In my article I will present some objections to these approaches. It is clearly true as has been pointed out that knowledge about the future cannot be tested to correspond with reality, since the future does not yet exist. However, it is debatable whether such a criterion is generally required for robust knowledge. Giving that we cannot observe the past but claim to know a lot about, I will argue that a commitment to the correspondence theory of truth is too strong a requirement for robust knowledge about the future. Theory building departs by inferring from present observations into both directions, future and past. To show this, some examples that illustrate how the future has a lock on us will be discussed. Furthermore, it will be outlined that the often cited notion of future’s openness also rests on such inferential knowledge, which indicates incoherence in the skeptics’ approach. These arguments build the basis for a modest realism about the future.