Vol. 44 No. 1 (2024): Topographies of Risk. Theoretical Approaches

Between the Present Future and the Future Present: Understanding Risk as an Element of Transformative Knowledge

Ralf Luefter
Free University of Bozen-Bolzano

Published 2024-06-12


  • Philosophy of Risk,
  • Philosophy of Economics,
  • Fundamental Ethics,
  • Transformative Knowledge

How to Cite

Between the Present Future and the Future Present: Understanding Risk as an Element of Transformative Knowledge. (2024). Teoria. Rivista Di Filosofia, 44(1). https://doi.org/10.4454/9e6jnd06


The aim of the research proposed here is a phenomenological informed diagnosis of the way in which authoritative economic theories understand risk and how their way of understanding risk relates to the notion of an open future. Inasmuch as the future appears as a phenomenon that involves risk, it is essentially related to the persistence of uncertainty. In the light of the claim to certainty that informs the economic approach to risk the conceptualisation of the future is particularly delicate. Risk, in its essential reference to the future, is configured as a motive for investment, transaction and credit. Thus, in the context of economic theories, the future is conceived through probability calculations cited by order of preference, thanks to which future risk is anticipated. However, we must be clear about the following circumstance: by translating the risk of a present future into the certainty of a future present, these calculations mask the risk associated with economic decisions, and, consequently, the essence of the future itself. In this way, they create an image that is stated in terms of purely fictitious certainties, and thus, in the final analysis, they create a fictitious future, which ends in a set of computable risk. In other words, replacing the uncertainty of the present future with the certainty of a calculable future present amounts to the abolition of the future itself and consequently to criticalities at the heart of modern economic science that result in an unpreparedness of economic theories to inhabit an evolving risk-landscape.