The Art of Conjecture  book cover
1st Edition

The Art of Conjecture

ISBN 9781412847483
Published May 15, 2012 by Routledge
326 Pages

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Book Description

Commissions of experts regularly meet to reply to questions such as: What will be the population of the country, or even of our planet, in ten, fifteen or twenty-five years? In what proportion will production have increased, what modifications will its composition and utilizations have undergone? The attraction of efforts to forecast the future continues. That is a fact. How does it proceed? That is a problem, one on which de Jouvenel focuses on in this book.

The Art of Conjecture clearly explains what the "study of the future" can mean. De Jouvenel emphasizes the logical and political problems of forecasting and discusses methods in economics, sociology, and political science by which the future can be studied. More importantly, he discusses the fallacies to which the "study of the future" is peculiarly likely to give rise. The author argues that it is natural and necessary for the population to have visions of the future. Without this, he states, we would only be able to set one opinion of the future against another. If the origins and meanings of these predictions remained obscure, only the event could decide among the opinions.

If any man can be said to have created the serious "study of the future" in our time, it is Bertrand de Jouvenel. Futuribles, a periodical he created, continues to represent a major turning point in contemporary social science. Jouvenel aimed to show how "the art of conjecture" could inform prudential judgment and allow citizens and statesmen to detect troubles before they arise.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1 On the Nature of the Future 2 A Need of Our Species 3 Terminology Part I Personal Destiny 4 The Project 5 The Conditional 6 The Future as an Object of Knowledge 7 The Principle of Uncertainty Part II Of Predictions 8 Predictions: I 9 Predictions: II 10 Historical Prediction and Scientific Prediction Part III Ways of Conceiving the Future 11 Process and Action 12 The Changing Scene 13 Conjectures and Decisions 14 The Pragmatism of Conjecture and a Few Consequences Part IV Quantitative Predictions 15 On Quantification 16 Short-Term Economic Forecasting 17 Long-Term Economic Forecasting and Its Social Aspects Part V Toward the Surmising Forum 18 The Political Order and Foreseeability 19 The Forecasting of Ideas 20 The Surmising Forum

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de Jouvenel, Bertrand