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Creating a satisficing future

It is now about 6:30 on a Saturday morning and I have a cup of warmed over coffee from yesterday and some cool music from Budapest on the stereo. One of these things is satisficing (barely) and it isn't the time of day or the music.

Satisficing is a term coined by Herbert Simon in his work on how institutions work.  It refers to the idea that decision-makers often move forward with solutions that suffice, that are satisfactory.  Compared with the optimal solution, which is unique and maximizing, the satisficing solution is one that gets the current job done.

And herein lies a challenge with the definition of sustainability -- it assumes that we know things about the future which are unknowable. We cannot know the needs, preferences, or the capacities of future generations (unless your grandfather was Vannevar Bush, he probably didn't even imagine the Internet). But we can project our own values into the future and in so doing imagine a future that we desire for our children.  

In my view, sustainability is about creating a satisficing future. One that is good enough, hopefully at least a bit better than the present, but certainly no worse. It is a pragmatic vision and it is one that is rooted in thinking about how institutions actually work.

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