Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management

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Volume 24 Issue 2 (June 2016), Pages 59-122

Unravelling the Planetary Boundaries Discourse – Scientism and Utopian Thought (pages 119-122)

In this forum contribution, the planetary boundaries discourse put forward by W. Steffen and colleagues is scrutinized. These boundaries are defined as a ‘safe operating space for humanity based on the intrinsic biophysical processes that regulate the stability of the Earth system’. Without reference to specific empirical shortcomings, it is shown that this discourse falls prey to the scientistic fallacy as part of utopian thought. Thus the erroneous belief is propagated that reality, through empirical research, can be penetrated to the full whereby a complete, that is, utopian, grasp of human reality can be translated into said ‘operating space’. This discourse is shown to be incoherent and lays waste to any useful research that tries to fathom particular accidents, crises and contingencies.

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