Prospection, the internal representation of possible futures, is a ubiquitous feature of the human mind, with roots going back into our animal ancestry. Sir John Templeton called this the “Power of Imagination.” Most of social science, however, understands human action as determined by the past, and views any sort of teleology as mysterious and metaphysical. Understood as prospection, teleology is neither mysterious nor metaphysical--it simply is guidance by one’s--internal, evaluative representations of possible future states. We call this being drawn into the future. These unmysterious representations can be understood as evaluative “If X, then Y” conditionals, and the process of prospection can be understood as the imaginative simulation of the possibilities encoded in these conditionals. Within this framework, we intend to catalyze a change the course of social science by moving telos to the center of research on human action.
Toward this end, we herewith submit two interlocked proposals. In the first (above) (September 1, 2012-September 1, 2015) we will create the critical book, crucial journal articles, a book series, a conference series, post-doctoral opportunities, forge research collaborations, and carry out foundational empirical research. In this, the second proposal (September 1, 2013-September 1, 2016), we will create an international research competition to fund fifteen scientific projects from distinguished young investigators. The Request for Applications (RFA) will be organized around five domains: Measurement, Mechanisms, Application, Improving Prospection, and Open.