Floyd, J., 2007, Thermodynamics, entropy and disorder in futures studies, Futures, vol. 39, issue 9, pp. 1029-44.

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Abstract

The conceptual bases of futures studies are constrained by physical reality only to the extent that we construct these according to our best understanding of physical principles. This places a burden on futures practitioners to ensure that engagement and use of these principles is sufficiently robust to protect the plausibility of their work. The second law of thermodynamics is widely recognised as having fundamental implications for the nature of our physical reality. It is also widely misinterpreted, leading to distorted understanding of this reality. Thermodynamic principles are frequently referred to in the futures literature, and are sometimes fundamental to the futures thinking underlying the work. Reflecting the widespread misunderstanding of the second law, usage in the futures literature is usually problematic. This has implications for the value of the work, and also for the credibility of the field. In this article, the problem is demonstrated, and an updated interpretation of the second law is introduced. The origin of the problem is examined from historical and scientific perspectives within the thermodynamics field. The updated interpretationÂ’s implications are examined in the context of futures and other trans-disciplinary perspectives.

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