How to justify beliefs about the future - some epistemological remarks

Research paper by Matthias Sonk

Indexed on: 08 Dec '15Published on: 08 Dec '15Published in: European Journal of Futures Research


This elaboration will explore the epistemology of futures studies. To address this, first the logi-cal ground of epistemology has to be examined, i.e., the laws of thought and in connection to that, the mere possibility of justified true beliefs about the future. After a short introduction to the concept of justified true beliefs, the distinction between internalism and externalism will be observed. Then, two approaches of justification will be explained and compared. Thereafter, the structure of knowledge has to be looked at and the distinction between foundationalism and coherentism will be illustrated. To conclude, the logical ground, the laws of thought, grants the possibility of justified true beliefs about the future, because the third law states that unam-biguous assumptions concerning the future can only be true or false but not undefined. Re-garding the distinction of internalsim and externalism, it is epistemically reasonable to favor internalism over externalism, because not only is it impossible to refer to the future externally but the internal approach concerning the accessibility of justification is a preferable way to justify beliefs about the future. Relating to the structure of knowledge, foundationalism is a better choice than coherentism, because it is a robust answer to the regress problem and moreover, a stable initial position is needed to justify beliefs about the future.